Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wolves banking on experience while at NAFA

The group heading south to represent the Sight & Sound Wolves might be a little long in the tooth.
But there’s so substitute for having gone to battle before.

The squad left today for the North American Fastpitch Association A-Major tournament in Quad Cities, Iowa, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday.
The Wolves, made up of five members of this year’s squad plus a collection of others from both within and outside the Rainy River District Fastball League, will be rife with players who not only have made their mark in the local league, but who have shown well in their previous trips to NAFA.
“Essentially, it’s the same team that went down last year,” said Wolves’ manager Derek McKinnon, who has led a squad to the event annually since 2006 and whose crew finished tied for eighth last year.
“We lost a couple of close ones but in the other games, we blew teams out,” he noted.
“We’ve got a few guys who are always in the league home run race or have MVPs to their credit,” added McKinnon.
“Every single one of these guys has some hardware on the shelf at home.”
Those on the team who actually play for the Wolves include pitchers John Desaulniers and Marcel Pagee, along with McKinnon, Kurtis Wepruk, and Duane Carlson.
They are joined by Kevin Gemmell, Vaughan Wilson, and Pearce Jackson (Barwick Blue Knights), Jesse Morrisseau (Couchiching Raiders), Jesse Tom (Big Grassy Braves), and a trio of current Manitoba residents in Bob Andy, Jeff Barton, and Donnie Gall.
Andy, who was named the RRDFL’s top pitcher last season while playing for Manitou, will anchor the pitching staff, along with Desaulniers.
“Bob hasn’t played in the league this year because he is taking some courses in Winnipeg,” McKinnon explained.
“But he just got done winning an aboriginal tournament in Prince Albert [Sask.] and then the Peguis tournament in Manitoba this past weekend,” he noted.
“That’s a lot of ball so he might be a little sore,” McKinnon conceded.
“Hopefully, he’ll be able to recuperate in time.”
McKinnon is confident in his team’s offensive depth throughout the lineup and their ability to flash the leather in the field.
“Pitching and playing up to our potential will be the key,” he stressed.
The Wolves begin play tomorrow at 11 a.m. against Illinois-Bowen FP and McKinnon isn’t sweating the surprise factor.
“We’ve been going down enough years now we’ve seen most of these top teams,” he remarked.
“You can do a little bit of scouting on them ahead of time, but really you should know what to expect.”
A win would put the Wolves into a second-round game Friday at 11 a.m.
A loss would drop them into a losers’ bracket match-up Friday at 7 p.m.

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