Bragging rights are on the line starting tonight when Prince Edward Island’s two senior men’s softball teams meet in the best-of-three provincial championship.
The Charlottetown John Brown Grille Fawcetts host the Summerside Chrysler Dodge Eagles at 8 p.m. at City Field.
“When we hit the field, no matter who we play . . . we want to win. And I know, in turn, Charlottetown wants the same thing,” said Eagles outfielder Jeff Ellsworth.
“On the field, when we play it’s super competitive, but off the field there’s great camaraderie. There’s great respect for both clubs.”
Players on both sides have joined the other team’s roster to go away to tournaments in the past. It happened earlier this month when Fawcetts infielders Chris Craig and Dustan Jones went to the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) championship in Quad Cities, Iowa.
Ellsworth, Mitch Hardy and Jamie Betts will join the Fawcetts next week for the Canadian senior championship in Charlottetown. This week’s series is a good tune up for the nationals, said Fawcetts first baseman Mark Arsenault.
“We have a lot of good friends on both side,” he said. “But there is that good rivalry between the teams, which is good because it drives up the competition, gets us ready for next week and definitely promotes the game a little better.”
Hardy gets the ball tonight for the Eagles while the Fawcetts hadn’t decided Tuesday between Craig and Steve Langley.
Game 2 of the series will go Thursday at 7 p.m. in O’Leary with Game 3 being played in Charlottetown Saturday. Details had not been finalized on Tuesday.
The O’Leary-based Eagles won last year’s three-game series 2-1 with a 5-2 victory in the deciding game on its home field. It was the first time a provincial championship had been held in a number of years.
Ellsworth said it helped spawn interest in the sport.
“This year we were able to get our first boys softball league up off the ground in the last 10 years,” he said, of the four-team under-12 circuit.
“Anytime you get together at the field . . . you see a lot of the boys kicking around the ballpark,” he added.
“I think the provincial championship that was played last year played a big role in helping get this league off the ground this year. A lot of these boys want to play at that level some day.”
It brings him back to his days growing up watching his older cousins play doubleheaders in communities like St. Lawrence, St. Louis, Miminegash and Roseville.
The Eagles will be going for its fourth straight Eastern Canadian intermediate championship in Fredericton, N.B., from Sept. 5 to 7.