District fastball league set to get season going

Dan Falloon

It will be a marquee match-up on opening night.
The Sight & Sound Wolves of Fort Frances, the defending Rainy River District Fastball League champs, will open the 2010 season against the regular-season champion Big Grassy Lightning at VanJura Stadium here tomorrow night (May 6).
Wolves’ player and RRDFL president Derek McKinnon said both Sight & Sound and Big Grassy should be set to contend again this season, with the runner-up Barwick Blue Knights also fielding a formidable team.
“Barwick’s always a contender and Big Grassy, they should be right up there, too,” lauded McKinnon.
“Big Grassy won the regular-season trophy, they had the best record.
“[But] when we [Sight and Sound] got all 15 guys there, we had a lot of depth on the team,” he added.
As previously reported, the league is welcoming a trio of new teams into the fold for 2010.
Big Grassy will field a second team while Manitou Rapids and Northwest Bay are expansion squads.
“One team, half the team from Big Island, they were really from the Big Grassy reserve, so they have two teams now,” noted McKinnon.
“And the other ones are two new start-ups, and that’s Manitou and Northwest Bay reserves.”
The new teams bring the total to an even 10, meaning no team will have to sit through a bye.
The expansion teams may be in tough this season, McKinnon conceded, as the new players get used to the league against established teams that field fairly consistent rosters from year-to-year.
He thinks hitting and catching should come on par with the competition quickly—it’s quality pitching that may be harder to come by.
“Pitching’s going to be an issue, probably, with the newer teams,” said McKinnon. “They’ll learn to hit and do everything like that a bit quicker, they’ll just have to develop some pitchers.
“So if they stick with it, they’ll be good.”
McKinnon also is impressed with the ability of the RRDFL to expand here as leagues in other regions either are struggling to survive or have shut down altogether.
“Dryden, their league folded a few years ago, and it’s really been dying out,” McKinnon said of fastball. “To have 10 teams is pretty good for an area this size.”
Each team is responsible for finding an umpire for home games, with McKinnon saying the need for officials remains.
“A couple teams found a couple guys,” he enthused.
“We were okay in town,” he added. “We had a couple guys lined up, and if one’s not there, we were still covered.
“[But] some of the other teams are still looking, if anybody’s interested.”
Interested umpires can contact McKinnon at 275-9583.