The Abaco softball timeline spans 41 years for the popular sport. For 32 of those years, Abaco’s men’s and women’s softball teams have been affiliated with the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF).
As Creter’s Bulldogs Sponsor Christopher Roberts recalled on Nov. 4, it was his brother Telford Roberts who emphasized the importance of being a part of the federation.
Just a year before their BSF membership, Telford took an All-star team from Abaco to Grand Bahama to play a jamboree of games in 1981. Telford was instrumental with teams like the Campari All Stars as well as a hybrid team comprised of players from Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Spring City called the Marsh Harbour Royals.
Now, after more than three decades of competing in Eleuthera, New Providence and Grand Bahama, Abaco’s most recent attempt to win the Bahamas Softball Federation’s National Round-Robin Tournament yielded success at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
On Nov. 3, the Creter’s Bulldogs amended Abaco’s history when they became the National Softball Champions. Creter’s Bulldogs players received cheers and warm embraces from ecstatic fans and Abaconians as they landed on Abaco on Nov. 4. MP for North Abaco Renardo Curry was accompanied by Rudy Smith, a former softball player, as they greeted the team.
“We would always come up short. We came in second a couple of times, but we could never win,” Christopher said. “But finally, we are able to win the Bahamas Championships, and that feels good I could tell you.
“My phone rang five [minutes] to 12 I think it was last night, and I feel shame to say I was sleeping, but the reason I was sleeping because I went to sleep hoping I would wake up to good news. Haziel [McDonald] woke me up, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. In between the time change and the excitement, I couldn’t get back to sleep.”
A look of well-deserved accomplishment settled on the face of Lyle Sawyer, the winning pitcher, who led his team to victory.
“We went out there, and the boys did good,” Lyle exclaimed. “We played good defense. I was shocked myself, but I was strong at all times.”
Certainly, the Bulldogs enjoyed a stellar season for 2013 advancing from the playoff games to the championship games on Abaco undefeated, and now, they have acquired the national title. According to Hazel McDonald, Creter’s Bulldogs manager, their success was the result of a group of guys coming together from all over Abaco as a family to play ball.
The Bulldogs managed to defeat the nation’s best when they beat New Providence’s Arnette’s Sporting Lounge Hitmen 4 -0 in the bronze medal game led by Pitcher Alcott Forbes. The Bulldogs advanced to the finals in the Round Robin to face Edney “The Heat” Bethel and the Elnet Excel Eliminatorsfrom Grand Bahama. In a victorious comeback, the Bulldogs raced from behind to defeat the Eliminators: 5-3.
Lyle struck out 11 players in that game, and earned the most valuable player award.
“I can’t even explain it,” Lyle replied. “I am amazed by all the people out here; everybody worked hard for it.”
Also caught up the excitement was Umpire Eustace Penn. He said that the Bulldogs’ win at the championships made him feel like all of his labour has come to reality.
“I know Lyle had it – he can throw,” Penn bragged. “Coming up next will be Tyler “Josey Wales” Russell; he’ll be ready next year. We just need to work on our girls’ program now.”
The Abaco Grocery Diamond Dollz defeated Terez Gas Angels 17-1 in the sixth game of the local championships to represent Abaco at the Round Robin tournament. Unfortunately, they lost to the Sagoma Navigators out of Andros in a close game. The score was 7-6.
At the tournament, BSF honoured the members of both the men’s and women’s national teams that finished third at the ISF Men’s World Championships in Tacoma, Washington, in 1980 and the ISF World Games in Santa Clara, California.