District fastpitch leagues seeking players, teams

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

After a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, Rainy River District fastpitch softball leagues are calling out for players. Both the men’s and women’s leagues are anticipating lower membership numbers, but are hopeful things will pick up.

Softball has been a summer evening tradition across the District for years. Both men’s and women’s leagues were at 12 and 10 teams respectively during their last seasons in 2019. Now the leagues are anticipating half those numbers.

Vaughan Wilson is the president of the Rainy River District Men’s Fastpitch league. Although he’s doubtful he’ll see pre-Covid registration numbers, but hopes it will provide a solid base to grow from.

“From my initial conversations with people, we’re going to be back to that six team number for the men,” Wilson said. “That’s kind of scary, but I have a lot of faith that if we can get it going again. It’s going to grow fast, but we need to keep it going.”

Stacy Patey is the president of the Rainy River District Women’s Fastpitch League. She says the league was doing well when seasons were called on account of COVID.

“We got to be quite a significant league,” Patey said. “We were very competitive, our women were pretty devoted to playing ball in the summer and practiced a lot.”

Some teams from previous seasons will be coming back together, Wilson says. But he’s collecting the names of ‘free agents’ who are looking for a team to play on.

“Of the teams in [Fort Frances] the only team that has really said they’re going to be around is Sight & Sound,” Wilson said. “So I’m taking down names of free agents or people that are expressing interest that want to play. I’m really hoping that of all the spare players left over from the four teams that were in town we can make another one.”

The leagues both hope to start by late May or early June depending on getting teams together. Then both would hope to have championships by late August or early September depending on the number of teams.

Neither league has an age requirement, though with fastpitch there are safety considerations to be made. But both leagues would love to see young players come out.

“It’s at parents’ discretion,” Patey said. “We do have safety rules in effect for kids that want to come out. So if they feel that 12-13 years old isn’t too young for our league, if they feel their child is athletic and they can get out there and field the ball and it’s not a safety concern then we welcome everybody to come out and see if they like it.”

Men interested in playing can get in touch with Wilson. His phone number is 276-0139 or you can contact him by email at vaughan_wilson1@hotmail.com or you can look him up on Facebook.

Women interested in playing can get in contact with Stacey Patey. Her phone number is 275-7065. There is also going to be an interest meeting for teams and players on April 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Emo Inn.