Women’s fastball league doubles
There’s a new sheriff in town and her town just experienced a population boom.
Candy Teeple’s first season as president of the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League will be an eventful one, with the 2014 campaign that kicks off tonight to feature twice as many teams as there were to finish last year.
But that number has skyrocketed to 10 through a surprisingly quick expansion process that has Teeple somewhat on edge.
“It’s scary and I am nervous about us getting too big too soon,” she admitted.
“I’m nervous about being able to sustain 10 teams throughout the year.
“It’s easy when everyone’s gung-ho at the start,” Teeple reasoned. “But then life takes over for a lot of people.
“But I’m excited and I’m hearing good things coming out of where the new teams are,” added Teeple, who plays shortstop for the Fort Frances Her-icanes.
The defending champion Redgut Babes and league finalist Her-icanes will be joined by the Couchiching Lady Raiders, the Big Grassy Lynx, and the Sabaskong Cougars as the veteran teams on the block.
Entering the fray for the first time will be the Fort Frances Junior Girls, Big Island Wildcats, Northwest Bay, Sabaskong Tebinaak, and Manitou.
“We’ve got some feelers out there, and we’re starting to figure out who’s pitching for everyone and who’s got who on their roster,” noted Teeple.
“I believe there are a lot of competitive people out there.
“There’s a lot of good ball players in and around town,” she added. “There was a lot of mixed slo-pitch teams when I got here and the bloodlines of those players have flowed through now to their children.
“We’ve got to get the kids involved if we’re going to keep this league going,” Teeple stressed.
“That’s what the men’s teams did. They started bringing out their sons.”
In that vein, Teeple is looking forward to sharing the diamond and the Her-icanes’ bench this season with her daughter, Cass, and niece, Kaily Greengrass, who made a name for herself this past season in helping the Muskie girls’ hockey team win its first NorWOSSA crown.
“I’m a proud auntie and a proud mom,” beamed Teeple.
“They’ll be our secret weapons this year.”
Teeple expected Redgut to once again be the team to beat this season, with the league’s top pitcher in Lynn Windego reportedly being joined by another unidentified fireballer to further strengthen their pitching depth.
The Fort Frances Junior Girls will be led by strong-armed hurler Sara Jackson, who made a name for herself playing youth fastball in International Falls in recent years.
“The juniors have a lot of Grade 9s and 10s, but some 11s, too, I think,” said Teeple.
“They’ve got youthful energy but we’ve got experience,” she reasoned.
The Her-icanes once again will rely on crafty righthander Laureen Hill on the mound after the team’s plan to add a pitcher from International Falls fell through.
“We’ve still got Laureen, our offence should be good, and we’ll make sure we have a good defence behind her,” said Teeple.
She also lauded the Rainy River District Fastball League for lending important support to the women’s game locally.
“The men have been unbelievable,” Teeple stressed. “They’re all for us getting stronger as a league and they’re behind us 100 percent.
“They give us advice and they’re throwing names of players out there for us as possibilities to join our league,” she noted.
As with all other outdoor pursuits here this spring, the prolonged cold weather and abundant precipitation has hindered the amount of prep time for players before the season.
“It’s pretty hard practising when it’s zero or two C out there,” said Teeple.
“We were concerned enough about the fields that we moved the start of the league to [tonight],” she added.
“We don’t want to go out and wreck the fields.”
Anyone interested in playing can contact Teeple at 275-6453 or via e-mail at email@example.com
“If someone wants to play, I can find them a team,” she vowed.
Opening-night action will be highlighted by a rematch of last year’s semi-final between the Her-icanes and Lady Raiders at the Rodrick and Telford Bruyere Ball Field at Couchiching.
Other games will see the Fort Frances Junior Girls in Big Grassy, Big Island hosting Northwest Bay, the Cougars at home to Redgut, and Manitou travelling to Sabaskong to face the Tebinaak.
Then on Monday, Couchiching hosts Big Island, Manitou visits the Her-icanes, and the Fort Frances Junior Girls travel to Sabaskong to meet the Tebinaak.
Rounding out the schedule, Redgut entertains Big Grassy and Northwest Bay hosts the Sabaskong Cougars.
All games start at 7 p.m.