Team Canada has a bye Wednesday at the Junior Men’s Softball World Championship for the first time since the tournament started Saturday night. They’ll celebrate the fact they’re 4-0 with a barbeque before ending their group games with Hong Kong Thursday.
The Canadian crowd can take a bit of a breather as well, as they’ve been flooding Rotary Field to see Canada play. Two Canadian players in particular have received a ton of support from the crowd, and it's not that surprising they are the two Saskatchewan boys; Warman’s Troy Kosmynka and Shellbrook’s Ryan Smith. The two have become unofficial ambassadors of sorts for Team Canada, making the media rounds before the tournament when the Canadians held exhibition games in both Warman and Shellbrook. The fact that they’re playing on Saskatchewan soil and representing the province together is something they’ve treasured thus far.
“It’s really cool. Me and Troy have known each other for a long time,” Smith said. “We’ve played hockey together, we’ve played ball together as long as I can remember. It’s really cool to share this experience with him. I’m his roommate at the hotel, so it’s pretty cool doing this all with him.”
The tournament could have been anywhere in the world, as the 13 participating countries come from every continent except Antarctica. But for Kosmynka, he had to travel less than an hour from his Warman home to the Prince Albert grounds and said he loves having the fans on his side.
“All the fan support has been incredible throughout every game so far,” Kosmynka said. “I just hope we can keep going. It’s been amazing. It’s super fun being right in my backyard."
The Prince Albert area is nothing new to Kosmynka. He said he basically grew up on the diamonds here, including a trip to the 2015 Under-16 Boys Fastpitch Nationals.
“I’ve played tons of times here. Tournaments, nationals, westerns,” Kosmynka said. “There’s been some really good tournaments here.”
Kosmynka has also spent a lot of time across the parking lot in the Art Hauser Centre. Last year, Kosmynka was an assistant captain for the Beardy’s Blackhawks Midget AAA hockey team and battled head-to-head against the Mintos.
When asked where his true sports passion lay, between ball and hockey, Kosmynka thought about it for a second before answering.
“That’s a tough question," he said. "I think it’s just hockey in the winter and softball in the summer. I think that’s just how it kind of works. I think I’m going to have to choose one, but we’ll see.”
Although it’s a feel-good story for the Sask. boys to be playing on the same fields they grew up on, Smith said he's just happy he gets to wear the Team Canada colours and play at the major tournament.
“Just to be on the field with this group of guys is an amazing feeling, wearing the maple leaf,” Smith said. “We all have a common goal. Just to be part of it is awesome.”
Japan vs. India, 12:30 p.m., Rotary Field
Australia vs. South Africa, 3 p.m., Rotary Field
Denmark vs. India, 5:30 p.m., Rotary Field
Argentina vs. Mexico, 8 p.m., Rotary Field
Argentina vs India, 12:30 p.m., Rotary Field
South Africa vs. Mexico, 3 p.m., Rotary Field
New Zealand vs. Guatemala, 5 p.m., Kinsmen Field
Japan vs. Australia, 5:30 p.m., Rotary Field
Czech Republic vs. U.S.A., Kinsmen Field, 7:30 p.m.
Canada vs. Hong Kong, 8 p.m., Rotary Field
On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW
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