Slow starts costly for Wolves at World Series

Elisabeth Heslop

The local Sight & Sound Wolves took a break from local fastball playoff action to compete at the “A-Major” World Series in Sioux Falls, S.D. last weekend.
This is the fourth year the team has played in the North American Fastpitch Association’s World Series, but this year did so at a higher level after having played in the ‘A’ division previously.
“This is probably one of the better years we’ve had down there,” Wolves’ manager Derek McKinnon said.
But even so, the team’s effort wasn’t enough to win the title.
“We had a slow start our first game and ended up losing 6-3,” McKinnon noted. “That was one of the better teams we’ve played and they’ve actually won it a few times.
“The team played really good, we had a few errors the first game that kind of cost us a couple runs, and you know we ended up losing 6-3,” he added.
“We just couldn’t really seem to get the bats going . . . I think we were actually leading 2-1 the first couple innings and we just couldn’t seem to cash any runs in.”
After losing that first game to the host Scarletts from Sioux Falls, the Wolves dropped down to the “losers’ bracket” and things started looking up.
“We won three in a row after our first game,” McKinnon said, adding that slow starts seemed to be a consistent struggle for the Wolves.
“I think just about every single game down here we were behind at some point and had to come back to win them,” he chuckled.
The Wolves won their second game 12-6 over the Bonner Boys from Montana, then took their third and fourth games by scores of 6-3 and 7-3.
The fifth game also was close, but unfortunately for the Wolves, the final score of 3-2 was in favour of their opponents.
“We had just tons of hits all game, but there was a lot of pop flies,” noted McKinnon.
“We were one run down [in the last inning],” he added. “We had a guy on second and third and two out, [but] just couldn’t quite get it in.
“We just about got it in on a line drive, but just didn’t quite get it.”
McKinnon said his team went into the tournament with a strong lineup, but losing that first game left them behind the eight ball.
“The way it works down there, if you stay in the winners’ bracket, it only takes seven games to win the championship,” he remarked.
“But you lose that first game, you drop down and you have to play your way through the losers’ bracket and I think it’s 12 games to win it, so you’ve really gotta win that first game,” he stressed.
“We were scheduled to play baseball from 9 in the morning until what would have been 11 at night on Saturday if we’d kept winning. It would have been two games and a game off, two games and a game off, and another two games.
“And then we’d still have had to play four more games on Sunday.”
McKinnon said they had great hitters straight through the lineup, and had home runs from lots of different guys.
“We’re such a strong hitting team [that] I thought we’d do a little better, but we came out slow at the beginning of the games and it seemed like it cost us at the end there,” he reasoned.
“We’ll take another run at it next year, but right now we’re back to focusing on our league playoffs here.”
Looking ahead, McKinnon said he’s confident about the Rainy River District Fastball League playoffs.
“We had a strong game last game against Big Grassy and I think we’ll see more of the same,” he remarked.
The Wolves played Barwick last Tuesday night but the score was not available by press time.