The national team dream

More than 40 softball players from across Saskatchewan were in PA over the weekend trying out for a spot on the junior national team roster for the 2018 world championships in PA. (Josef Jacobson/Daily Herald)

More than 40 Saskatchewan junior softball players attend Team Canada tryouts in PA

For the past six months Softball Canada coaches have been scouring the country to assemble a team of young men good enough to take on the world.

That search brought junior men’s national team head coach Jeff Ellsworth and his staff to Prince Albert this weekend, where more than 40 Saskatchewan softball players born between the years 1999 and 2003 attended tryouts at the Max Power Ball Parks.

On Canada Day weekend Softball Canada will announce the 26 athletes out of about 250 that will be invited to Prince Edward Island for selection camp in August. The final 17-player roster will compete for Canada at the 2018 Junior Men’s World Softball Championships, hosted in Prince Albert.

“Right now the world championships are over a year away so we’re looking for the best athletes that can do a multiple of things,” Ellsworth said, rattling off a list of skills including base running, explosive hitting, defensive fielding and high-velocity pitching.

“At the end of it all we look at all the numbers and all the stats and that’s the fun part about coaching is to try to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle and then shrink the puzzle and try to put it all together.”

Tryouts began on Friday night with pitching and catching practice, Saturday was devoted to individual skill and strength training and the players were broken into teams on Sunday for exhibition games. Seven Prince Albert residents, as well as three Albertans and a Manitoban, were among the attendees.

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