Good weather and a three-peat highlight another year of Dustball

“It wasn’t bright sunshine, but it wasn’t raining, so it was great that way.”

Softball Yukon held the annual Dustball tournament in Whitehorse from July 12 to 14, with 61 teams taking to the diamond in nine categories.

In the men’s ‘A’ division, Chico’s from Skagway, Alaska, was the winner with local teams P&M Recycling Guns and Jats Diggers finishing second and third.

An Alaskan team also won the men’s ‘B’ division as Rounders, from Juneau, Alaska, won with The Ducks and the Rockies finishing second and third.

Rounding out the men’s results, the ‘C’ division winners was the Kaska Grizzlies, while the Dirty Sox were second and Snug Harbour from Gustavus, Alaska, were third.

The two women’s divisions — ‘A’ and ‘B’ — both had all-Whitehorse podiums.

The Crew won the ‘A’ division, with Electric RBI’s in second and the Cougars in third.

The ‘B’ division winners were the COREGEO Dirt Diamonds, while Booster Juice and the Flyballers finished second and third.

In what is a particularly notable achievement given the size of the tournament, the Backdoor Sliders three-peated as coed ‘A’ division champions — the team won in 2017 as the Sliders and again in 2018 as the Grizzlies.

Second spot belonged to the Fountain Tire Mudders while the Padres were third.

In the coed ‘B’ division, Team Whitty was first, Whitepass was second and the CRB Hawks were third.

TLC Massage won the ‘C’ division, as the Cereal Killers finished second and the Aklak Air Falcons finished third.

Lastly in the coed ‘D’ division, the Big Bear Cubs were first, Jiffy Lube was second and the Diamondbacks out of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, were third.

Softball Yukon executive director George Arcand said the most memorable thing about the tournament might go down as the good weather.

“I think what stood out is we had a dry weekend, finally,” said Arcand. “It wasn’t bright sunshine, but it wasn’t raining, so it was great that way. Weather was the biggest impact I think on this year’s Dustball.”

The tournament is getting close to turning 40 — Arcand said it’s being investigated exactly when the tournament started — so next year’s tournament could end up being a celebration.

“We’re climbing close to that 40 mark,” said Arcand. “If it isn’t 40 next year, it’s going to be close to that. We’ve got some guys going through the archives to find if we’re right about that.”

This year’s tournament expanded last year’s use of the three pitch system. Rather than having each at bat start with a 0-0 count, batters start with two balls and a strike — a change designed to help keep games on time.

“To speed it up, that’s what it was done for,” said Arcand. “For the most part it worked, but there is also some negative to it.”

Pitchers have to find the strike zone sooner or the walks can start to pile up.

“It has a detrimental effect on the pitching,” said Arcand. “That can slow it down on the other side if you get a bunch of walks.”

Whether to continue using the format, modify it or scrap it all together is something Arcand said the board is going to be discussing before next year’s planning gets underway.

The 61-team turnout is slightly down from years past, but Arcand said the many wildfires near Dawson likely cut into registrations from the area.

“We probably lost a couple teams from that end,” said Arcand. “Not anything to worry about — I’m sure it’ll jump right back next year.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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