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Moose Jaw Minor Girls Fastball sees record registration heading into new season

Total 376 players taking to diamonds this summer as sport continues to see growing success

It’s become one of the traditions of spring, an official sign that summer sports season is here and things are off and running.

Moose Jaw and District Minor Girls Fastball held their annual opening ceremony on Sunday morning, with players across all divisions gathering at Optimist Park for remarks from president Ryan Ward and the traditional season-opening first pitch.

It didn’t take long for fans and participants to get an idea of how things are looking for the organization, either: when it takes nearly 10 minutes just to pipe the players on the field, that’s a pretty good sign your registration numbers aren’t doing too bad.

All told, 376 players will take to the diamonds playing fastball this season, a new record after the heights of success they saw in 2022 -- and needless to say, one that has Ward looking forward to a great season.

“We’re probably a week behind because of the weather, but the diamonds look beautiful and having a record number of kids is great to see,” he said. “There’s lots available for these kids to do in every sport and they’re very busy, but we’re so glad they enjoy the sport of ball.

It’s nice to get going again and it’s going to be a fun season.”

The surge in fastball’s popularity can partially be attributed to the success teams have been seeing in recent years. Provincial championship contenders have become a regular for the Moose Jaw Ice representative teams, with the U17 AA Ice having won the Softball Sask title in 2023 before going on to finish 3-3 at nationals in Ontario.

Younger players get a look at that kind of thing, and it’s only natural to want to be a part of it.

“I think they look up to these older girls and they see the success the older girls are having and it makes a difference having all these diamonds in one park, too,” Ward said. “So you could have the younger divisions playing at the same time as the older divisions, they can look up to the older players and see the fun they’re having, and that success breeds more success.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a strong slate of coaches and managers throughout MJMGF, a group that does everything they can to make sure everyone has fun.

“A big part of it is the coaches and the work they put in and the type of atmosphere they create for these kids,” Ward said. “It’s a positive atmosphere, they get to learn the game and have fun and all the usual pieces of the puzzle that support it.”

The regular season began immediately after the opening ceremonies and will run until the end of June.

Weekends will also be plenty busy in June, with Ice tournaments taking centre stage-- the U15s play on the May 26-28 weekend, U11s on June 2-4, U13s on June 9-11 and U17s and 19s on June 16-18. The tournament schedule wraps up on the June 23 weekend with AA tournaments across all age groups.

Moose Jaw will also host the U15 AA provincial championship during the July 14 weekend at Optimist Park.

Even with some events more than a month away, teams have been lining up to sign on for the Moose Jaw tournaments, with the majority of draws already filled.

“People from out of town are seeing the success Moose Jaw is having, it shows in the tournaments and the turnout for our tournaments.” Ward said. “We have people from Alberta and Manitoba wanting to play in our tournaments, and it’s not only because of our league, it’s because of the city and the atmosphere we have here.”

Members of the provincial champion U17 AA Ice were on hand to deliver the opening pitch, with Katie Newberry doing the honours to catcher Makena Simmons as Jasmine Kohl and Cassia Montgomery looked on.

Be sure to keep an eye on and the Moose Jaw and District Minor Girls Fastball Facebook page for more information and updates throughout the season.

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