Just 26 years old, Coady Kelly obviously feels his days of playing fastpitch softball shouldn’t be nearing an end.
“I’ve been playing fastpitch since I was five years old,” he said. “I’ve got lots of years left to go yet.”
Unfortunately, the native of Placentia has no league in which to compete since the Corner Brook Molson Men’s Fastpitch Softball League shut down over the weekend.
“Not enough commitment,” said Kelly of the main reason the league was forced to close up shop. “I think the bodies were there, but it was too hard to find times for people to be available.”
Once a popular pastime in the city, the fastpitch version of men’s softball lay dormant for years until a group of — mostly veteran — players re-established the league and played, mainly as a three-team setup, for the past five seasons.
Kelly, a league spokesman and co-organizer, said there has always been a few roster issues, but the teams were always able to overcome them.
“We’d always have a team missing a body or two,” he said. “But nothing like this year.”
Three games were already held this season, but with insurance and city fees due shortly, the decision was made to pull the plug when it became evident there was no way to ensure the league’s survival for a full season.
The biggest disappointment for Kelly was not necessarily that it happened, but how it went down.
“There were a lot of people I’d hoped to see out that never said anything, they just left,” he said. “Groups that we were thinking were for sure, then all of a sudden they weren’t for sure.”
The league lost a number of players this season who chose to play senior baseball with the expansion Curling Marlins instead.
Another part of the problem, Kelly said, is some players never getting enough time to play, so they bailed for slo-pitch instead.
“Why would people stay?”
Bringing it back
Undaunted, Kelly vowed to put in the necessary work throughout this summer until next, in the hopes of resurrecting the sport in Corner Brook once again.
The only solution he sees is to reach out to a younger age group, teach them to pitch — the lack of pitchers being another major anchor weighing down the future of the sport — and bring them up through the game.
Like Kelly himself was, when he started playing 21 years ago on a packed field in Placentia, where kids, he said, are still learning fastpitch softball by the hundreds.
“I’ll be working straight through the year to try to figure out a solution, correct the problems and work from there,” said the pitcher, one of only a handful that could do it consistently.
In the meantime, he’ll be working with interested slo-pitch players over the summer to help them get up to speed on hitting in fastpitch.
He said there are also plans in motion for those who still want to play fastpitch to get games going on weekends or when open field times pop up.
A trip to Stephenville is also in the works, as Kelly has been speaking with a few people that want to play a game.
Anyone interested in familiarizing themselves with the game of fastpitch or playing at all this summer or next can contact Kelly at email@example.com.
“There’s a large group of us that want to make this league happen,” he said. “Just not enough.”