It’s fastpitch softball, but not as we know it.
Canberra will host its annual Skins tournament early next month, with 18 teams split into two grades competing for a total of $16,780 in prize money.
While everybody likes the idea of winning some cash, there is more at stake than just money.
Aussie Steelers Head Coach Laing Harrow is involved in the tournament and will be a keen observer as players try to impress electors ahead of a busy 2017 for the men’s national team.
Harrow is one of many fans who enjoy the Skins format, in which teams pay a fee to enter and prize money is available not just for the winners of the game, but the winners of every inning.
“It’s different to playing a normal game of softball,” Harrow explains. “Strategies are different because teams are able to declare if they get some runs and are confident they can shut the other team down for an inning.
“Every inning is worth money, so if neither team scores or the runs are tied, it just carries over and builds to the next inning.”
And unlike a regular tournament, teams that get off to a bad start still have plenty to play for. “They may lose an inning, but then they get ready to go again in next inning and can earn some cash even if they don’t win the game.”
Skins softball was first played in British Columbia, Canada, before the FastPitch Softball League (ACT) caught on to the concept and ran the first tournament in 1988. It is the longest-running men’s tournament in Australia and is now firmly on the event calendar for Softball ACT in the lead-up to National Championships early in the new year.
“With money involved, it’s very competitive and it attracts a lot of our top players to this tournament,” Harrow says. “With Nationals just around the corner in January, it’s going to be a pretty good tune-up for the players. And with national selection coming up, it gives selectors another look and gives players an opportunity to perform.”
The 2016 event, which features players from all over Australia and even a team from Papua New Guinea, will also include a Home Run Derby. One player from each of the A-grade teams will compete in the derby, with the winner earning $500.
The Canberra Skins will be held from December 2-4 at the Hawker International Softball Complex.
UPDATE: The Woden Giants have won their third consecutive FPSL Canberra Skins Tournament.
- Check the Fastpitch Softball League – ACT website for results.