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Sports This Week: Prince Albert hosting major softball events

Prince Albert has hosted international softball events in the past, having hosted the U18 Men's World Cup in 2018, where Canada finished fourth.
Justin Laskowski celebrates with Jason Hill and Quentin Bruce.

YORKTON - If you are a fan of men’s softball, (I still think of it as fastball), at the highest level, then you had to be thrilled the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has awarded the 2024 WBSC Men's Softball World Cup Group Stage and the 2025 World Cup Finals to Canada, and more specifically to Prince Albert.

Both events will be held at Prime Ministers Park in July 2024 and 2025 respectively. 

The 2024 Group Stage will consist of three groups of six teams that will have qualified from their respective continental qualifier. The top two teams from each group and two wild card entries will advance to the 2025 World Cup Finals. 

Canada will of course take part in the 2024 stage event, but are already slotted into the 2025 Word Cup Finals tourney as the host team.

“It’s amazing to think about,” offered Saskatoon’s Justin Laskowski.

Laskowski, an infielder has been a Team Canada member for some time, and is among 30 players who have been listed as possible team members headed to 2025.

Laskowski said he recalls Saskatoon hosting the World Cup back in 2009, when he had the opportunity to be the bat boy for Japan.

When Saskatoon hosted again in 2015, Laskowski was driving a golf cart from the parking area to the bleachers for fans.

It was also the year Saskatoon’s Devon McCullough led Canada to gold.

“It was a dream one day being a part of that,” said Laskowski.

Prince Albert has hosted international softball events in the past, having hosted the U18 Men's World Cup in 2018, where Canada finished fourth.

Laskowski was in attendance for a number of games. He said the event was extremely well-run, which he said no doubt helped in securing the upcoming events.

The qualifiers being held – including the one this summer in P.A., are new for world softball.

“These qualifiers are great. It’s just another major tournament fans get to watch,” said Laskowski.

While Canada will look to perform well in July, they advance as host nation anyway, a situation Laskowski said could be a positive.

“I think it might work to our advantage,” he said, adding with the pressure to finish top two, the team can work on team chemistry and having everyone get comfortable in their anticipated roles headed to 2025.

“It will be more about trying to grow as a team, jell as a team.”

On a personal note Laskowski said it will be great having friends and family in the stands every game.

Team Canada is currently ranked second in the WBSC official rankings after capturing the silver med at the 2022 Men's Softball World Cup. 

Australia are the current WBSC Men's Softball World Champions, beating four-time winners Canada in 2022.

Fourth-ranked Australia behind a great pitching performance by Jack Besgrove topped then world No. 3 Canada 5-2 to claim the title in Auckland, New Zealand.

The USA claimed bronze.

The silver medal made Canada the most successful team in the WBSC Men's Softball World Cup with 14 medals - four gold, six silver and four bronze - one ahead of New Zealand with 13.