Wolves manage just one win at World Series

The best lessons often are learned in the face of tough opposition.
The Sight & Sound Wolves took several valuable lessons away from the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) World Series in Appleton and Kimberly, Wis. over past weekend.
Foremost amongst the teachings?
“We can be competitive down there,” infielder Derek McKinnon said.
The Fort Frances-based team fared reasonably well in the Class ‘A’ division made up of 55 other squads from across North America vying for the title—winning their opening game before dropping the next two and being eliminated.
“It gave us a little bit of perspective,” McKinnon said about the overall experience of competing at NAFA.
“After our first win, we knew we belonged down there and that we are a competitive team,” he added.
Despite their sub-.500 record, McKinnon said he and his teammates were pleased with their performance at fastball’s premiere competition.
“For a first-time experience, I think we did OK,” he remarked. “We played decently.”
McKinnon added while the team obviously would have liked to come away with a few more wins, the experience of playing on fastball’s biggest stage was an invaluable learning tool.
“The biggest thing is we didn’t travel enough this year and we didn’t see enough different pitching,” he explained. “If we’d gone to a few more tournaments, I think it would have made a big difference.
“We’re going to go to Des Moines [Iowa] next year (site of the 2007 NAFA World Series) and we’re going to hit a bunch of tournaments in the States,” McKinnon vowed.
The Wolves also learned some valuable lessons concerning offensive strategy.
Sight & Sound decided to play “small ball” in Wisconsin—a strategy which involves getting runners on base and then moving them over one base at a time as opposed to swinging for the fences.
It was a decision that did not pay off as the Wolves stranded numerous baserunners throughout the tournament.
“I think we maybe should have opened it up a little more,” McKinnon said. “We bunted a little bit too much.
“We should have had a bit more faith in the bats and maybe swung away a bit more instead of giving up an out on the bunts,” he conceded.
But not all the lessons the Wolves learned at NAFA were tough to swallow.
For instance, Sight & Sound now knows for a fact what they had suspected all season—they possess some of the best young talent around.
Cole Kaemingh, Clayton Windego, Vaughn Wilson, and Travis Derksen (the latter two on loan from Barwick) all were selected to play on a team competing in the under-23 division after the Wolves were eliminated from the tournament.
And that only can lead to one conclusion—the Wolves’ future is bright.
“We’ll do better next time we go,” McKinnon predicted. “We’ll know a little bit better how to play.”
Opening win
The Wolves got off to a strong start in their opening contest against Pete’s Bar of Appleton, grabbing a two-run lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Duane Carlson Sr. singled and advanced to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by Ed Vold. McKinnon then stepped to the plate and belted a two-run homer for the early lead.
Sight & Sound added another run in the bottom of the third when Carlson Sr. singled home Kevin Gemmell, who was on base after doubling to start the inning.
Pete’s Bar battled back with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to cut the Wolves’ lead to 3-2.
That was as close as they’d get, though, as Sight & Sound sealed the 4-2 victory in the bottom of the sixth inning when Cole Kaemingh scored after Travis Derksen hit into a fielder’s choice.
The Wolves fell behind early in their second game as Lumber Company (Zeeland, Mich.) scored two runs in the top half of the first inning courtesy of the long ball.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Vaughn Wilson led off the bottom half with a single. Two batters later, Bob Andy crushed a home run of his own to knot the score.
But Andy’s blast proved to be the lone highlight of the game for Sight & Sound as Lumber Company added a run in the second, two more in the fifth, and four more in the seventh inning for the 9-2 victory.
In their final game of the tournament against Wishing Well (Appleton), the Wolves didn’t capitalize on their scoring chances—stranding six baserunners through five innings.
Meanwhile, the hosts scored in bunches en route to the 7-0 win.
They plated three runs in the second and another in the third before adding three more in the fifth, at which point the game was called due to NAFA’s seven-run mercy rule.