By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WITH less than a month before the men’s national softball team heads to Cali, Colombia, to compete in the Central American and Caribbean Games qualifying tournament, the Bahamas Softball Federation will showcase the players in a series of games this weekend in the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
Team manager Godfrey ‘Gully’ Burnside, who will be assisted by coaches Perry Seymour and Martin ‘Pork’ Burrows, said this will be a good way to introduce the “new look” of vibrant young players to the public before they head off to represent the country.
“We’re trying to help to support the team while we are away,” Burnside said. “We will also give the public an opportunity to see the team and the transition that is taking place within the team. People will also get to see the chemistry of the team because we are bringing in the players from Abaco and Grand Bahama to play together with the players from New Providence.”
Tonight the New Providence Softball Association’s ladies champions Sigma Brackettes will play against an All-Star team from the NPSA at 7pm. That will be followed by the men’s national softball team against the BSF men’s national champions, Creter Bulldogs from Abaco.
What’s interesting about the men’s feature contest is the fact that the players from Abaco, including pitcher Lyle Sawyer, will play with their Bulldogs squad, while Alcott Forbes and Thomas Davis will spearhead the men’s national team pitching staff.
On Saturday, there will be girls under-19 and boys under-19 softball games, followed by the men’s national team against a selected All-Star team out of New Providence.
For this men’s game, Sawyer will pitch for the men’s national team and Forbes and Davis will team up on the All-Star team.
“We are trying to mix up the teams so that all of the players will get sufficient playing time,” Burnside said. “But at the same time, we want to provide an avenue for the public to see all of the players in action.”
Around 5pm, an All-Bahamian concert will take place.
The national team is made up of the following:
Pitchers - Alcott Forbes, Lyle Sawyer, Thomas Davis and Tyler Russell
Catchers, Angelo Dillette and Grant Albury
Infielders - Jamal Johnson, Wayne ‘Eric’ Johnson, Ken Wood, Richard Bain, Rashad Seymour, Quintin Rolle and Keel Pinder
Outfielders - Sherman Ferguson, Lamar Watkins, Addie Finley and Marcus Holbert.
The reserves are - Garfield Bethel, Jordan Gibson, Andrew Albury, Larry Russell Jr, Philip Johnson, Carlos Pratt, Zhivago Archer and Martin Burrows Jr
As it draws closer to their departure, Burnside said they have been getting in some very good practices. “There seems to be some very good camaraderie among the young players on the team at this time,” Burnside said. “We are getting the pitchers out to get batting practices for the guys, so we are trying to sharpen our skills offensively in bunting, hitting and running.”
The team is scheduled to leave town on April 24 and return on May 3. Based on what he has seen, Burnside said he’s confident that the team can come back with a medal and a qualifying spot for the CAC Games in Veracruz, Mexico, November 15-30.
“I think we have a pretty good team in this particular tournament,” Burnside said. “Although we are in transition, I think we have a very good team.”
A total of 14 teams, split in two divisions, are expected to make up the field for the qualifying tournament. The Bahamas is slated to play against teams from Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Belize, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.