Moose Jaw and District Minor Girls Fastball find themselves in a situation a lot of organizations would love to have.
Just what do you do when you have so many players signed up that you don’t even have enough equipment and balls to get everyone on the field?
While it’s not quite to that extreme, league organizers have been hard at work to get everything ready for Opening Day on Sunday morning, with leagues across Canada facing a whole new look.
That’s because the age groupings have been advanced a year this season, meaning instead of Under-10, U12, U14 and U16/19 house league divisions this season, teams will be playing in U9, U11, U13, U15 and U17/19 classes -- bringing a whole new age division into the proceedings.
“I’m not going to complain, but it is stretching us a bit,” said league commissioner Shawn Okerstrom, adding that a total of 365 players have signed on so far, with more joining every day.
“We’re looking at some growing pains, there are supply problems with catcher’s gear for the young kids, and even getting enough new balls. Rawlings is behind on making balls because everyone heard there was a shortage and stocked up, and now there’s an extra division in there, so it’s caused a shortage of being able to buy some, too.”
The ‘problems’ largely stem from so many players returning to the game -- families who stayed away the last two seasons out of safety are back, and players who were looking to simply have something to do the last two summers have also signed up again.
Even the local tournament schedule has been hit by increased numbers. In years past, 15 or so teams would be a good weekend, while in 2022, the U11 and U13 tournaments are already at 20-plus teams, with more potentially on the way.
In the end, Okerstrom expects those minor issues will get sorted out, and regardless of those hiccups, things will be a go on Sunday with their first full-on Opening Day in years.
Previous iterations in recent seasons were either cancelled due to the weather or didn’t take place at all due to the pandemic.
On Sunday, players from across all divisions will gather at Optimist Park before being piped on to Diamond #1 for the traditional first pitch of the season. That honour will fall to former Moose Jaw Ice standout Madison Thul, who is currently playing for the University of Calgary Dinos.
“She’s kind of the first player to move on and play ball somewhere else in the last 10 years or so, so we thought she’d be perfect for it,” Okerstrom said. “She’s kind of leading the pack on that and there are some kids who are following right behind.”
Everything gets underway at 10 a.m., followed by a full day of action at the Optimist Park diamonds.
For more on Moose Jaw and District Minor Girls Fastball, be sure to check out their website at www.mjfastball.ca and be sure to find their Facebook group fo the latest updates.