While Brady Potter of the Virden Oilers started catching full time at about the age of 13, he had long known he wanted to be a backstop.
“Always was my favourite position as you’re involved in every play and can see the whole field at all times,” said Potter, who noted he also likes how it is a leadership position.
Last week Potter, who has been with the local nine since its 2015 revival, helped the senior Oilers split its first two games of the South West Baseball League season. He was 2-for-4 with a double and batted in a run as Virden opened the season with a victory.
“Brady usually hits in the middle of our line up and has a lot of success at the plate,” said Oilers pitcher/co-manager Des Koop. “As a catcher, Brady is one of the best in the league and is a pleasure to throw to. As a pitcher, it is nice to know that your catcher, if given the chance, can throw out majority of the runners in our league.”
A Virden product, Potter is a compact construction equipment salesman at Brandt Tractor Ltd. He lives in Brandon.
“I make the drive out to Virden to play ball because it’s a great group of guys and the support we get from the town is great,” Potter said. “We go to a lot of other towns and don’t see the crowds and support that we get in Virden.”
He enjoys working with the Oilers pitching staff, which is led by returning aces Curtis Plett and Jeff Peel as well as Koop, a closer. In regard to the trio, he said they are “All guys who are going to go out and give you a chance to win every night,” while noting the squad also has other capable pitchers. New to the pitching staff and team this season is veteran senior baseball standout Clark Whelpton from Brandon.
“Clark is a guy that’s going to play all over for us and be a real big addition at the plate too,” Potter said. “Also, he’s a good leader and will help some of our younger guys with the ins and outs of the game.”
This season the Oilers will also have Virden’s Dreyson Potter serving as an affiliated player. He happens to be Potter’s younger brother.
“He’s going to come out when he can this year on nights he doesn’t have minor ball,” Potter said. “Super excited to get to play with him for the first time and hopefully get to catch for him too.”
The Expos outhit the visiting Reston Rockets, 15-9, on July 3, but fell 18-14. Elkhorn led 5-4 after the first inning and 8-5 following the second. A four-run third put Reston on top 9-8. The Rockets outscored the Expos 7-5 in the fourth to hold a 16-13 lead. In the seventh, Reston added two runs while Elkhorn scored once.
Elkhorn’s Tyler Wood was three-for-three at the plate with a game-high four runs batted in. Tristen Shiner, Colby Walker and Bryce Kyle each drove in two runs for the Expos. Damon Bajus, one of three Expos pitchers to throw, took the loss. Elkhorn committed seven errors.
On Sunday, the Expos fell 26-2 to the host Boissevain Centennials. The victors had 26 hits and took advantage of six Expos’ errors. The Centennials scored eight runs in the first inning. Elkhorn pushed both of its runs across in the seventh. Jayce Soder was two-for-two at the plate for the Expos.
Elkhorn plays host to the Souris Cardinals (0-2, as of Monday) on Sunday and the Rivers Comets (1-0) on Wednesday.
The Oilers open their season with a 10-0 domination of the visiting Wawanesa Brewers on July 3. Virden took a 2-0 first inning lead and then pushed eight runs across home plate in the fifth inning. Virden collected nine hits in total off the four Brewers hurlers. The Oilers took advantage of three Wawanesa errors.
Peel threw all seven innings for Virden. He struck out 13 and allowed only four hits. Peel helped his cause by going three-for-four at the plate with a team-high three RBIs. Keifer Johnston had two RBIs for the Oilers.
On the road on Sunday, the Virden team fell 4-3 to the Reston Rockets. The Rockets scored twice in the bottom of the seventh – the final inning - to slip by the Oilers, who led 3-2 going into the frame. Both teams had two runs in the second innings, while Virden added one in the fifth.
The Oilers had six hits. Braeden Lewis led the way with a three-for-three performance. Curtis Plett took the loss for Virden. He allowed four runs on 11 hits and struck out four. Pipestone product John Patmore earned the victory. He allowed struck out seven.
The Oilers host the Rivers Comets on Friday. The Hamiota Red Sox (1-1) visit on Monday.