A Braves batter takes a pitch from the Westbank Cardinals during the 2012 Canadian Native Fastball Championships in Cranbrook

A Braves batter takes a pitch from the Westbank Cardinals during the 2012 Canadian Native Fastball Championships in Cranbrook

Shuswap dominates at fastball championships

Two Shuswap Band teams take first place in their divisions playing in memory of Randy Martin.

The 2012 Canadian Native Fastball Championships have come to a close, and while the two Invermere teams  — the B.C. Arrows and the Invermere A’s, both from the Shuswap Band — were victorious in their respective divisions, the win wasn’t everything it could have been for tournament co-organizer and A’s and Arrows manager Dean Martin, who lost his son Randy Martin earlier in the year.

“It was a great achievement, but very hollow not having Randy there,” Dean said.

Randy, who was an avid baseball player his entire life, would have normally been front and centre at the tournament playing alongside his family from August 2 to 5 in Cranbrook. Unfortunately, Randy passed away unexpectedly earlier in the year during a trip to Las Vegas, and as a result both Invermere teams dedicated their tournament play to him.

“That’s the big thing that impressed me about the players, who came out to dedicate their time to Randy… it was unbelievable,” Dean said. “Everyone who it seemed like had played for Randy at one time or another wanted to play for him this time.”

Following an opening ceremony honouring Randy’s memory and an opening pitch made by Randy’s son, the Invermere teams took to the pitch and played some solid baseball on their way to winning both the senior men’s division and the masters’ division titles among 65 other participating teams in a wide range of categories. The wins mark the second consecutive division title for both squads, with the A’s narrowly beating the Westbank Cardinals in the final game. Dean also said he was especially appreciative of all the support his teams received throughout the tournament, as many of the participating players knew Randy from tournaments past.

“Everybody there had so much sorrow, yet happiness, and encouragement — as much as you can in a situation like that,” Dean said. “To help heal, you have to have those type of people around you no matter where you go.

“We won the tournament for him.”

Up next for the teams is a trip to California for the North American Native Fastball Championships.

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