The Hay River Mixed Slo-Pitch League has wrapped up another successful year.
The summer of slo-pitch concluded on Aug. 27 when the Trappers took the championship game 12-6 against Ashton Whiteshirts. Third place was captured by Super A Icebreakers.
“It feels awesome,” said Alina Lizotte of the winning Trappers, adding the team had never won the championship before.
Lizotte said the Trappers were undefeated in the playoffs, which is a double knockout round involving all 12 teams in the league.
“We never lost a game,” she said. “So I knew that we were all on our game. We all improved over the summer.”
That was even despite the fact the Trappers had a couple of players who never played in the league before this year.
The Trappers are also an example of the love of slo-pitch because seven or eight members of the team actually live in Fort Resolution, and drove the 150 km to Hay River up to three times a week to play.
One of those players is Lizotte, who said there is no league in Fort Resolution.
“It’s something to do instead of staying home all summer, coming to play ball,” she said. “We all love ball. I couldn’t see any other way to spend the summer.”
Rachel Daigneault-Durocher, president of the Hay River Mixed Slo-Pitch League, was pleased with the playoffs.
“All games were really close in the final,” she said. “It was pretty exciting ball.”
The league starts play at the beginning of June, and each year wraps up just before school starts.
“As it gets closer to school time, it’s harder to field a team, and it gets colder and we don’t have as much sunlight,” said Daigneault-Durocher.
Overall, she said the league had a good year.
“We always have a good year,” she said. “It’s always good for slo-pitch.”
The league has about 150 players, including some as young as 15 years old who have to get waivers signed by their parents to play.
This was Daigneault-Durocher’s third year as president, and she said the league seems to be getting bigger every year.
“The level of play is always really good,” she added, although she stressed it is a fun league.
Daigneault-Durocher plays for the Concept Bandits.
“We made it three games into the final,” she said. “We did better than last year.”
Glenn Smith, the vice-president of the league and a player with Carters Crushers, said the league had another strong season.
“We’ve been over the last several years really gaining a lot of positive energy with that league in terms of participation and even the quality of the games,” he explained.
Plus, Smith noted the games created a good social atmosphere, both for players and spectators.
“I’d say this year more than usual there were a lot of people in the stands watching games, whether they be ballplayers that have the game off or fans or local residents who come out,” he said.
Smith, who has been playing in the league since about 1993, noted that the 12 teams this year was an increase over last year.
In fact, he remembers when the league only had about six teams.
“It’s been in a valley,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to build it up through the executive. Hopefully, it hasn’t peaked yet, but it’s hard to think of going much higher than 12 teams in a town this size.”
Smith said the most teams he can recall were 16 in the early 1990s.
The league has existed for about 30 years.