After the Sooke Loggers won the Western Canadian Senior B Men's Softball Championship last year in Stonewall, Man., the team decided it was time to take a shot at an International Softball Congress crown.
Victoria has been the home to several ISC championships, but the last local team to play in the ISCs was the 2004 Traveller's Inn squad.
"We have a young team, and after a lot of fundraising, we thought that this would be a very good opportunity to play against the best,'' said Sooke field manager Len Banner.
"Brian Banner, Nick and Andrew Medwedrich all have experience at this level after playing with Traveller's Inn and the Vancouver Grey Sox. For the rest, this will be something new.''
Sooke qualified for the 48-team ISC tournament in Midland, Michigan, with a second-place finish at a tournament in Kelowna. With no senior teams to play in the area, Sooke travelled to five tournaments to prepare for the ISCs, which begin Saturday. The Loggers won the Best of the West tournament in Santa Barbara, California, and placed second in Fargo, North Dakota, and in Kelowna. They also went to Las Vegas and Vancouver.
"We started the year ranked No. 28 because we were an unknown team,'' Banner said. "After playing in those tournaments and beating some higher-ranked teams, we moved up to
No. 13. The top 16 teams received a first-round bye in the ISC tournament.''
When the team wasn't at tournaments, its members played in the MacDonald Park league on several different teams.
"The majority of our players came from Langford and Sooke minor softball. Our pitching will be handled by Scott Lieph and Rich Haldane. They are both horses, and they can threw a lot of innings. We would have liked to have another pitcher with us, but it just didn't work out with time away from work.''
The New York Gremlins enter the tournament as the No. 1-ranked team while the Hill United Chiefs from Ontario are No. 2. Each team is guaranteed three games.
"The strength of our team is hitting and team speed. We are aggressive on the base paths. Chad Bryden and Kris Walushka have been our leaders in hitting all year, and we'll need that to continue.''
The other members of the team are Jared Cooper, Kyle Cowick, Ben Edgington, Chris Caron, Adam Schnarr and Darcy Walushka.
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