BROOKLYN -- Brooklyn, P.E.I. resident Jeff Ellsworth went into the 2014 International Softball Congress (ISC) world tournament in Kitchener, Ontario last week knowing it would likely be his last time competing at that level.
He got home Monday morning with a world championship and the tournament’s most valuable player (MVP) award.
Ellsworth was planning on retiring from competitive ball after this year, but he acknowledges his commitment with Canada’s national men’s team could actually take him to next June and July. Either way, he’s not planning competing in any future ISC or ASA (American Softball Association) championships.
“It’s time,” he said. “I’ve thought about this for a long time. It’s a big commitment.”
Indeed, he’s been on the road steady this year since July 31 when he left for the ASA world tournament in South Bend, Indiana. From there he went to Saskatoon to coach the P.E.I. ScotiaBank Reds at the National Under 18 Women’s championship in Saskatoon, and then flew off to Kitchener for the ISC world championship which concluded Saturday with the Hill United Chiefs from Six Nations, Ontario repeating as world champions. They defeated the host Kitchener Hallman Twins 3-2 in the final, scoring the wining run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Ellsworth batted 12 for 20 for the Chiefs and hit four offerings out of the park. He drove in eight runs to play a key role in the Chiefs’ title defence. He went 0 for 2 in his first game of the tournament. A rain delay on Monday carried their second game over to Tuesday, and then the hits started to happen.
Still, the 36 year-old veteran outfielder said he was surprised by the selection, believing the team’s top pitcher, Adam Folkard, should have been named MVP.
Folkard picked up six pitching wins in the Chiefs’ six-game title sweep, sitting out just two innings during the tournament. He was named the tournament’s top pitcher. Both Folkard and Ellsworth were named All-World first team all-stars.
Fellow islander, Mitch Hardy is a pitcher for the Chiefs, but with Folkard’s dominant performance throughout, Hardy pitched in just one inning during the tournament.
It was Ellsworth’s two-run homer in the third inning of Saturday’s championship final that tied the game at 2-all.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh. Jason Sanford got on with a double and made it to third on a passed ball. Kitchener native Craig Crawford sent Sanford home with the winning run, dropping a single between the Twins’ center fielder and right fielder, and the celebration was underway.
Over the course of two weeks the Hill United Chiefs repeated as ASA and ISC world champions.
Although the curtain is coming down on Ellsworth’s stellar competitive softball career, he said he will fulfill his commitment with Canada’s national team. That includes going to Argentina for a Pam Am qualifier at the end of October. From that, if he retains a spot on the national team, he would play for Canada in the world tournament next June in Saskatoon and in the Pam Am Games in Toronto the following month. He has been a member of Team Canada since 2007 and the team captain for the past five years.
Ellsworth to put more focus on coaching, promoting softball
O’LEARY -- Jeff Ellsworth might be getting set to retire from playing competitive softball, but the Brooklyn P.E.I. resident says he’s not leaving the sport, just adjusting his focus.
Ellsworth and his wife Lori were recently named to coach Team P.E.I. women at the 2017 Canada Games. Player identification camps start this fall.
They recently coached the U18 women at the national championships and are hoping to remain active at that level. As recreation director for the Town of O’Leary, he is also intent on promoting and growing the sport in western P.E.I. Two such opportunities are coming up over the next month when O’Leary hosts the men’s and women’s Eastern Canadian orthodox and the Atlantic Canada Squirt Boys championships.