GUYSBOROUGH – Current and former athletes who played ball with or were coached by the late Wayne Avery gathered at the Drysdale Ballfield in Guysborough Sunday to pay tribute to him as a driving force behind the development of fastball -- and many athletes -- in Guysborough County. The tribute, led by Paul Long of the Guysborough Amateur Athletic Assoc., took place between the semi-final and final championship of the 43rd Annual Billy Kennedy Memorial Fastball Tournament, a popular part of Guysborough Come Home Week.
Avery, a longtime teacher, passed away last fall at age 58 after a battle with cancer.
Members of the Avery family -- including Wayne’s wife Sandra, daughter Ashley and brothers Ricky and Eddy -- were invited onto the diamond for the tribute. Danny Worth presented Sandra with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of former teammates.
In an emotional finish to the tournament, Wayne’s son Cory Avery then led the Guysborough Broadhorns to a hard-fought 6-5 victory over the Halifax Pepperjacks. Avery pitched the championship win, added a home run and delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning, with two out.
He captured the top pitcher and MVP awards for the tournament, while Alex Connolly, named top hitter, added a triple, double and a single and Geoff Cook added two singles. In a game that featured two long-time friends and teammates (both mentored by Wayne Avery) leading their respective teams, pitchers Donnelly Archibald and Cory Avery demonstrated why they have been recognized as premier ball players in Canada.
The Guysborough Broadhorns led off the tournament Friday evening with a 3-0 win over the Guysborough Josts. Avery pitched a no-hitter while Geoff Jamieson took the loss for the Josts. Tristan Richard led Guysborough with a home run and a single while Aaron Long added a triple and Joe LeBlanc had a double and single.
Game two saw the Halifax Pepperjacks defeat the Alexander Street White Sox of Sydney by a score of 5-2. Donnelly Archibald was the winning pitcher while Jonah Wright and Dave MacPherson led the offence with three hits each. In what was to be a sign of things to come, the Guysborough Broadhorns won a close game over Halifax by a score of 6-5. Rene d’Entremont pitched the win over Donnelly Archibald, who came on in relief of Craig Manuel. Alex Connolly was the offensive leader for Guysborough with a home run and a triple, while Geoff Cook added two singles. Archibald continued a hot bat for Halifax with a home run and a single.
The Guysborough Josts lost a close game to the White Sox by a score of 4-3. Bryson Gould, who pitched all the games for the White Sox, picked up the win over Adam Rodgers. Game five saw the Broadhorns complete the round robin undefeated with a 7-0 win over the White Sox. Avery was the winning pitcher, allowing just two hits for the win. Geoff Cook, Alex Connolly and Cory Avery each had two hits for the home team, sending them directly to Sunday’s championship game.
Craig Manuel led the Halifax team to victory over the Guysborough Josts in game six, winning 7-0. Manuel added two hits, giving the collection of former players from the Guysborough area their third loss of the tournament.
The semi-final game on Sunday morning featured Halifax and Sydney, with the Pepperjacks coming out with a 7-1 win. Manuel pitched the win with Archibald leading the offence with a home run and a single.
In a repeat of last year’s final, the Guysborough Broadhorns and the Halifax Pepperjacks squared off in another close game that kept the large crowd on the edge of their seats until the last pitch. The home team squeaked out a seventh-inning comeback to secure the 6-5 win.
Demonstrating the calibre of Guysborough County softball, local players on the field Sunday included three former national team members -- Cory Avery, Donnelly Archibald and Aaron Long -- as well as others who have won provincial and national tournaments as members of club and provincial select teams.
Organizers expressed thanks to the Kennedy family for their continued commitment to the Billy Kennedy Memorial Fastpitch Tournament, one of the longest-running fastpitch tournaments in Atlantic Canada. Thanks also went to the Alexander Street White Sox who have been attending this tournament regularly for 30 years.
Next up for the Broadhorns will be a trip to the provincial championships in Sydney, where their lineup will be bolstered by the additions of Jonah Wright, Donnelly Archibald and Andrew MacIsaac, all products of Guysborough County softball.
Best of luck to the team as they look to continue a proud tradition of softball in our community.