Ball was certainly back this summer – although it was a bit different.
Virden Minor Ball and Elkhorn Minor Ball, under the Elkhorn District Community Center, both put baseball and softball teams on the diamond this season. Teams did not take the field until July 1 and there was a variety of new protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few examples of the “new normal” were that Baseball Manitoba required physical distancing in the dugouts, gum and sunflower seeds were not allowed, players were to sanitize their hands each time they went out on defence, and every team had a Health and Safety Coordinator.
Travis McColl, who is active with Elkhorn Minor Ball and helped coach the Virden 13U team, said: “we had a great season even though it was shortened with the looming pandemic.” He emphasized that health and safety coordinators “worked well with teams’ players and families with social distancing and disinfecting and cleaning protocols.” McColl noted that communities were unable to host their regular tournaments, which raised important funds for minor ball.
The season has now wrapped up for many teams. Some have found ways to extend their season. For example, McColl said that the 15U Elkhorn squad is holding some exhibition games with the Brandon league. The Virden 13U team is trying to arrange an exhibition game or two with Brandon.
Virden softball teams earned the opportunity to compete for provincial titles. The U10 and U14 squads played their provincials last weekend. This weekend the U12 and U16 will compete.
In Winkler, the U14 team had good run, coach Joel Charles said. It went 4-0 to win its pool and advance to the quarterfinals. The team lost a 6-4 heartbreaker in that round to end its season, Charles reported.
In Winnipeg, the U10 team played four games over two days. Three were against competition from the Winnipeg area and one was versus a Winkler squad.
“The girls played hard each game and had a number of very close games that could have went either way,” coach Chris Masson said. “Unfortunately, they didn’t end up playing on Sunday. … Special thanks to the coaching staff Karla Robertson, Darcy Clarke, Adam Gonty and Travis Paton.”
The Oildome AAA programs have started with 13U and 15U teams. McColl noted that the 15U will play about 15 games crossing over with the Winnipeg league.
“It’s some great, fast baseball,” he said.