Of the 15 top fastball players in B.C., two of the young men selected for Team BC hail from Sooke. Ryan Spence and Kelby Wittich will be playing in the upcoming U21 Men’s International Softball Championships happening this year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on July 9-14.
According to the Saskatoon information guide, “The 2013 U21 Men’s International Softball Championships is an event developed by Softball Canada and it’s provincial softball organizations across Canada to provide a competition for the male U21 classification to replace the Canada Games Program. This program was developed to provide a National/International caliber event to better prepare the athletes for possible future National Team invites.”
In other words, it’s an incredibly opportunity for two of our young men.
In conversation with 19-year-old Kelby Wittich, Kelby said he’s been playing for 13 or 14 years now. His father, Doug Wittich, coached “throughout my entire softball career,” and managed a ballpark. Wittich has a brother and sister, both of whom are actively engaged in baseball.
The other Sooke player, Ryan Spence, is also a well-rounded athlete.
“Ryan has played basketball for me for two years at EMCS. As well he has served as an assistant coach to both the senior boys’ and junior boys’ basketball team. Ryan comes from a fastball family!” writes Trevor Bligh, one of Sooke’s accomplished volunteer basket ball coaches. “He’s a nice kid.”
Outside of playing for Team Canada, Kelby says there are limited career opportunities in softball. He finds, sadly, that interest in the game locally is waning. The competition for young, active players is fierce.
“There are a lot of other sports to choose from,” Kelby says. This limits the number of players who sign up. Also, he notes, softball tends to be less respected than fast pitch. Which he finds unfortunate, as “fast pitch can become more of a pitcher’s game whereas softball tends to be more of a team sport.” It is the collaboration of a strong team that really appeals to Kelby.
To which his father, Doug Wittach, adds, “Though his goal is to officiate hockey at the NHL level one day, his love is ball and will always be ball.”
Regardless of the limited future, two of Sooke’s finest softball players will be heading to Saskatoon this summer to compete against teams of equally high calibre. And what the future holds for these two talented young men is anyone’s guess. Their youth, talent, and passion for team sports and leadership can serve them well.