Dog days of summer for Kivalliq softball

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Rankin Inlet travelled to Churchill, Man., in 2017 and grabbed the championship banner in the inaugural Calm Air Hudson Bay Classic softball championship.

Rankin was not able to return to Churchill in 2018 to defend its championship, but did return in 2019 and went all the way to the final of the double-elimination tournament before bowing to the Seaport Sluggers in two games.

May Ningeongan of the Salliq (Coral Harbour) Invaders gets ready to take the next pitch downtown during action in the Coed E Division championship game of the Slo-Pitch National in Halifax, N.S., on Aug. 5, 2019. Coral dropped the championship game to the Alberta Guns. Photo courtesy of SPN

Darren Ikakhik said the majority of the players on the 2017 championship team came from Rankin’s New Era squad, while this year’s team was comprised mainly of players from the Juggernauts.

He said Churchill actually invited Rankin to compete in the inaugural Calm Air Hudson Bay Classic, and everyone had a great time on their way to the championship.

“We skipped last year, which was kind of a drag as defending champs, but we decided to return and try it again this year,” said Ikakhik.

“We had different players this time, but we still did pretty well.

“The Churchill tournament is about the same level of ball that we have at our Calm Air Cup in Rankin, which was taking place this past weekend, with, pretty much, every team being competitive and I like it like that.”

Ikakhik said you have to be ready to compete in every game at the event, as most of the teams are evenly matched.

He said when it was just Rankin and the Sluggers left still standing, Rankin had one loss while Seaport was still undefeated.

“That meant we had to beat Seaport twice to claim the championship, while they only had to win once to be champs,” he said. “We beat them the first game, but we ran out of gas during the second one.

“There was about an hour break, or so, between the two games and that was really a bit too long for us.

“We couldn’t keep our adrenaline up that long and we just didn’t have anything left for the final game.”

While Rankin came up just a little short in the Churchill tournament, the Salliq (Coral Harbour) Invaders came up just a little short on a much bigger stage.

The Invaders were the Cinderella team at the Slo-Pitch National (SPN) in Halifax, N.S., advancing all the way to the Coed E Division championship game on Aug. 5 before falling to the Alberta Guns.

In Rankin last weekend, six teams competed for the Calm Air Cup championship, with New Era, Arctic Connections, Salliq Invaders, the Senators, Rockies and Fireball all vying for top honours.

Final results of the Calm Air Cup were not known as of press time.

For more on Coral’s amazing run at the SPN, including a number of action photos from the team’s championship game, as well as the final results from the Calm Air Cup, please see the Aug. 21 edition of Kivalliq News.