Junior slo-pitch league in full swing in district

In an effort to revitalize a sport that appears to losing popularity to soccer, a junior slo-pitch league has been set up in Rainy River District.
Six teams–two from Northwest Bay and one each from Manitou Rapids, Big Island, Barwick, and Sabaskong–play each Wednesday night in a league that sees them play each other once at home and once more on the road.
Once the 10-game schedule wraps up at the end of July, a playoff schedule will be announced although the details still have to be worked out.
League convener George Oltsher of Barwick said the intent is to get as many kids in the district involved in slo-pitch as possible. There is no cost to play because it is run by volunteers and all balls are bought through donations.
Oltsher said all the towns in the immediate area were contacted to attend the trio of league meetings back in April and May. It quickly became clear a mixed slo-pitch league for players aged 12-15 was the only viable option.
“All the interest we had was in slo-pitch,” said Oltsher, a veteran of the Rainy River District Fastball League.
“We contacted all the towns like Devlin and Fort Frances but none of them showed up,” he noted. “And the ones that did said they couldn’t get a fastball team going but they could get slo-pitch.”
Oltsher said having a junior fastball league wasn’t a priority. In fact, all they wanted was for a place for the kids to play.
“We weren’t too concerned with what kind of ball we got going, we just wanted to get something going,” Oltsher stressed. “We basically got [the league] started because we had lots of kids excited about it.”