Change accompanies start to fastball season

The Rainy River District Fastball League began its new season last week by bidding farewell to some old faces and saying hello to some new names and places.
Reigning MVP and pitcher-of-the-year John Desaulnier (Pinewood Bears) will not be back. The ace, who also was the RRDFL president, moved to Dryden.
Stratton Bobcats captain Cliff Chojko-Bolec also won’t be back after moving to Manitoba during the off-season.
“It’s not really strange to see people leave,” said longtime Barwick Knights pitcher and manager George Oltsher, who took over as league president.
“There’s always a few changes.”
Bulldogs pitcher Warren Voth will take over Oltsher’s duties as treasurer, Kyle Langlais of Pinewood will be the new vice-president for Chojko-Bolec, and teammate Earl Ivall will be the new publicity director, taking over from Grant Swire.
Other changes saw the Legion return to Rainy River after a four-year absence to bring the total number of teams in the RRDFL to nine.
And the six-time defending champion Bulldogs moved to Couchiching, citing poor conditions at their previous home diamond in Emo.
But they’ve played all their home games so far this season at VanJura Stadium in Fort Frances as their new diamond needs new outfield walls and a touch-up on the field.
“It should be ready to go in another week,” said Voth, adding the team also plans to make another run at the Division II World Series in mid-August this season starting this weekend with a qualifier in Fargo.
The team opted out of the last year’s series.
The Bulldogs’ return means two teams for local fans to cheer for as Sight and Sound will play its nine home games out of VanJura Stadium.
Last year’s new entry, Zig’s Place, now will be called Hyatt’s Contracting.
The middle portion of the schedule will be a busy one as tournaments hosted by the Bulldogs (June 8-9), Barwick (July 6-7), and Big Island (July 20-21) are set.
The all-star game will go July 26 at Big Grassy.
Make-up dates are June 13 and July 16, and the playoffs, featuring the league’s top eight teams, will begin Aug. 8 (the eighth and ninth-place teams will play in a one-game showdown to see who advances).
Counting opening games last Tuesday and Thursday, Rainy River has jumped out to a 2-0 record, recording a pair of home wins over Barwick 11-10 and the Bulldogs 4-3.
Barwick and the Bulldogs are tied at 1-1, Big Island and Pinewood are both 1-0, Sight and Sound is 1-0-1, and Hyatt’s Contracting sits at 0-0-1. Stratton and Big Grassy are 0-1.

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