Town softball team sunk by Falls

If it wasn’t for a mild technicality, the Fort Frances council slo-pitch team would have been neck-and-neck with their International Falls counterparts during last night’s annual softball challenge here.
Unfortunately, that technicality came in the form of 15 extra runs in the last two innings in a 34-19 win by the Falls.
The loss dropped Fort Frances to a 2-12-1 record against the Americans over the past 15 years of the exhibition game. The two teams tied 12-12 last year.
“We’re getting really close. We just had a case of dropsy. We were dropping everything,” said Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, who pitched and coached the team.
“34-19, it could have went either way,” he added with a raised eyebrow. Town CEO and umpire Bill Naturkach quipped, “Yeah, if you don’t count the exchange rate, we would’ve tied ’em.”
After surrendering an early 9-0 lead, the town’s batters used their heads to secure countless base-on-ball scores, scoring six-straight runs on bases loaded walks to take a 14-9 lead.
Fire chief Steve Richardson also stretched out a inside-the-park grand slam in that inning.
But the Falls fought back to tie the game at 16-16 after four innings and 19-19 after five innings.
And then the floodgates opened.
The local heroes were blanked the rest of the way while Fall Mayor Harry Swendsen sparked the sixth-inning rally by socking a two-run double to give his team a 22-19 lead.
They cranked out 10 more runs in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach.
“Well, basically we were tied when we started and then we kind of pulled away,” joked Mayor Swendsen. “It was a good game.”
“It’s a lot of fun. A lot of camaraderie on both sides,” echoed Mayor Witherspoon.
The win also completes a rare sweep for the Falls. They won the annual snowshoeing race in January.
“We even brought them the snowshoeing trophy to throw them off,” said Mayor Swendsen. “A little bit of mind games there.”
But fear not, stressed Mayor Witherspoon, for the wheels are in motion for sweet revenge—in another 364 days.
“We’re saving the big win for our centennial year [in 2003]. We’ll put a team on the field the town can be proud of and we’ll start recruiting tomorrow,” Mayor Witherspoon said.
“Yes, yes,” agreed Coun. Dave Bourgeault. “There’s always next year.”