Madison Clarke shows a shirt that has logos of her and her mother’s Canada Games on it.
©Jason Malloy/The Guardian
HEADINGLEY, MAN. – An “adopted” Islander will play against her home province today when Prince Edward Island meets Nova Scotia at the Canada Games softball competition.
Madison (Maddie) Clarke came to Prince Edward Island three years ago to study kinesiology and play for the UPEI Panthers women’s hockey team. Team P.E.I. softball head coach Jeff Ellsworth floated the idea of her trying out for the Island ball squad a few years back while attending a national tournament.
“It was a tough decision to not go back to Nova Scotia with me playing with a lot of the girls there,” Clarke said Thursday.
The Hilden, N.S., resident started playing softball when she was about 11 years old.
Clarke played ball on provincial teams in Nova Scotia with Mineville’s Emma O'Brien and Cole Harbour’s Trish Gemmell each year and now they are on the opposite sides of the diamond.
“They support me,” Clarke said. “They’re great friends, so they understood what I was doing.”
The teams have played each other a number of times this summer, which makes today’s contest a little easier.
“The first game was tough and I didn’t know how to react,” Clarke said. “(Today is) going to be a relaxed game, I think. I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. The team that we have here is all behind me.”
Clarke comes from an athletic family with her father Dave well known in the ball, hockey and curling community while her mother Carla was a pitcher at the Games in 1985 in Saint John, N.B.
“It’s pretty unique,” Clarke said. “She told me a lot (about the Games) before we came.”
The versatile Clarke, who has played left field, shortstop and first base this week, said she is enjoying her time at the Games. The softball competition is played in Headingley, Man., about 25 minutes from the athletes’ village in Winnipeg. They usually play two games a day, leaving little time to enjoy the other activities of the multi-sport event.
“We are trying to get in and watch some of the other (sports), like the volleyball. We were in there and it was packed. The atmosphere was amazing,” she said.
P.E.I. is 2-6 in the 10-team tournament and wraps up round-robin play against Nova Scotia (1-6) at noon Atlantic.
The Island squad pushed undefeated British Columbia to extra innings on Wednesday. After allowing six runs in the top of the eighth, P.E.I. responded with four in the bottom of the inning and had the tying run at second base when the game ended.
“That was a hell of a game,” Clarke said. “We played our hearts out.”
P.E.I. was hoping to be in medal contention entering the week, but is now searching for an eighth or better finish, which would set a new record for the province at the Games.
“We’ve set new goals and we’re pushing for that goal now.”
By the numbers
.304 Madison Clarke’s Canada Games batting average
4 Runs scored
2 Stolen bases