Heading into this fastball season, the Barwick Blue Knights knew they would be fielding a young team.
Decimated by the retirement of several quality veterans in Kent Ogden, Tom Woolsey, and Greg Wilson, coupled with the departure of talented shortstop Trevor Oltsher to the Landmark Alliance in Manitoba, this year was expected to be a rebuilding one.
And it wasn’t expected to produce many wins.
But as the old saying goes, “Out with the old and in with the new,” and the Knights have rebuilt their team with youth this season—and the results have been encouraging.
Last weekend, Barwick, with a roster sporting several players under age 15, won the consolation final at the annual fastball tournament in Pinewood by crushing Sight & Sound 12-4.
Pat Hyatt belted a three-run blast in the second as Barwick jumped out to an early 5-1 leading, chasing Sight & Sound starter Harvey Flamand.
Jock Gemmell played well in the leadoff spot, with veterans George Oltsher and Willie Derksen also helping do the damage.
In fact, the Blue Knights came within a swing of upsetting the talented River City Rebels of Winnipeg during pool play. Leading 4-3 late in the game, the Rebels needed a three-run homer to pull out the comeback win.
Oltsher said the team is prepared to take these kind of losses as they get better with each game.
“We’re a young team but the guys have come along real good,” said Oltsher, who’s also the team manager. “They don’t get to play all the time but we let them have fun, and when they get in there, they bring a lot of excitement.
“We have had lots of surprises from new players like Jock Gemmell, who’s become our leadoff hitter the last month, and he also brings a good attitude,” Oltsher added.
“We never yell at them, that’s not our style. We just let them have fun,” he stressed.
Barwick also played well enough at times to snag fourth place in the Rainy River District Fastball League standings as the regular season wrapped up Monday night.
The Blue Knights opened first-round playoff action last night against the fifth-place Pinewood Bears. The other games featured Big Grassy versus Sight & Sound and Emo hosting Big Island.
No scores were available at press time.