The Rainy River District Fastball League will be without one of its original teams when it begins its 33rd season May 19.
Williams, Mn. no longer will compete in the district league due to a lack of players, leaving just eight teams—Barwick, Emo, Pinewood, Rainy River, Stratton, Big Island, Big Grassy, and Sight & Sound—to vie for this year’s crown.
But the league also is reportedly struggling to find players for the Barwick, Stratton, and Pinewood teams. New league president John Desaulniers said anyone interested in playing fastball this season can contact him at 483-5357.
Meanwhile, Sight & Sound, which played its home games in Emo last year, will play them under the lights at Vanjura Stadium here this season.
Those games will start at 8 p.m. while all other league games are slated for 6:30 p.m.
The league also has made an important rule change this season, electing to switch back to the old Canadian Amateur Softball Association rule which forces pitchers to start their delivery with both feet on the rubber.
A “hop” or step forward during the pitching motion also will be disallowed.
The change, intended to help hitters, was made to coincide with Softball Manitoba’s decision to also adopt the rule change.
The league’s Sunset Merchants “travel team” will be competing for the Manitoba title once again this summer. The idea is to get accustomed to the rule change before they participate in the provincials July 17-19 at the John Blumberg Complex in Winnipeg, Desaulniers said.
The Merchants won the Manitoba crown two years ago.
In other fastball news, the annual all-star game is slated for Barwick in July (no date has been finalized) while the year-end banquet will be hosted by Emo.
The league executive for this season includes Desaulniers, Brian Bonot (vice-president), George Oltsher (secretary/treasurer), and Trevor Oltsher (statistician).
Tournaments are slated for Stratton (June 4-6), Barwick (July 3-5), Pinewood (July 31-Aug. 2), and Emo/Sight & Sound (Sept. 4-6).