A broken nose didn’t stop him.
The absence of three of his team’s three key players didn’t stop him.
In Sunday afternoon’s championship softball game, Charles Chandler contributed seven points to the Diggers’ scoreboard, earning his team the tournament title and him the coveted Most Valuable Player trophy.
“Charles was key on how to suck it up and pull it together,” Men’s Fastpitch League president Glen McGregor says. “He broke his nose early in the final game when he crashed into home plate and hit his nose against the back catcher’s pad. Can you imagine the pain? He pushed his nose back and kept playing. That’s the commitment to the team.”
All told, Chandler’s prowess at bat led to seven players crossing home plate, including two home runs of his own.
The Diggers won Sunday’s championship game 7-6 against the Twins. It might have had a different ending if Julian Stevenson hadn’t been caught out on what he had hoped would be his game-tieing run home.
“For a final game, you can’t get much more exciting than that,” McGregor says.
While it’s not surprising that the Diggers did so well, especially after winning the league title the week before, all bets were off on Sunday morning.
The team’s powerhouse is pitcher Adam Woodward and his twin Tom as back catcher. They share a Sedin-like ability to read each other’s plays. However, back in January they learned that they’d have to be at a wedding on Vancouver Island on the Sunday of the tournament.
Their play helped get the Diggers to the semi-finals but what would happen then, especially since Aaron Johnstone was also off to a wedding on Sunday and the Diggers were up against a very strong Cruisers team?
“The rest of the team pulled it together and made it happen,” McGregor says, giving a shout-out to relief pitcher Dan Guillon. “Ninety-five per cent of people would have thought they couldn’t do it without their key players.”
In the semi-final game against the Cruisers, the Diggers won 4-3. In the other semi-final game, after winning first place in round robin play, the Shakers lost 11-9 to the Twins in the semi-finals.
The trophy for the tournament title and MVP are named in honour of Scott Helenius, a young player who died in a house fire in 1986, the year the league started.
The league also presented its trophies for this season’s league play.
The Greg Cope Most Sportsmanlike Player trophy went to Brewers coach James Strang. “He’s put a team of young guys together who come down to practice just because they love the game. The team’s loving him, loving coming down to play,” says McGregor, noting that the Brewers were second in the league this year.
The Coach of the Year trophy, named in honour of the late Bill Taylor, went to the Shakers’ Paul McGillivray, who started playing as a 16-year-old and has been coach for the past five years. “He’s done a phenomenal job of keeping it fun and everyone happy.”
The complete list of 2015 league trophies:
MVP: Eric Hunter-James
Top Batting Champion: Eric Hunter-James
Rookie of the Year: Adam Framklin
Coach of the Year: Paul McGillivray
Home Run King: Derek Sinke
Top Pitcher ERA: Adam Woodward
Pitching Strike Out King: Adam Woodward
Greg Cope Most Sportsmanlike Player: James Strang
Most Dedicated Athlete: Derek Sinke
Most Improved Pitcher: Pete Scott
Most Outstanding Outfielder: Lee Pretious
Electrifying Base Runner: Clayton Hunter-James
Most Improved Player: Iishan Cruz
Most Outstanding Infielder: Doug Durrant
Most Outstanding Utility Player: Spencer Grundy
Outstanding Senior Player: Rick Sinke
2015 League and Tournament Champions, the Diggers: Adam Woodward, Tom Woodward, Dan Guillon, Dan Cowper, Matt Cowper, Ross McCorquodale, Paul Whitecotton, Charles Chandler, Aaron Johnstone, Charlie Barbour, Dave Hilborn, Justin Byers, Leyland Briscoe, Matt Lazsuk, Mike Langley and Matt Harrison.
Although the annual tournament is a huge amount of work, it’s a labour of love for McGregor, who was still out on Monday doing a final clean up. “When you put an event together with help and smiling faces, and then there’s all the fun ruckus of the weekend, it makes it all worthwhile.”
He gives a shout-out to Molly Montgomery who volunteered as scorekeeper for more than 40 games during the regular season.