Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ICE DAMAGE – The weird temperature fluctuations this winter resulted in ice accumulating on the screen over the batting cage. The weight caused a partial collapse of the structure. Inset Harold Risby

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

UNDER WATER – Much of Takhini #4 is still covered in water.

Late spring delays start of Whitehorse slo-pitch season

It’s going to be a while yet before the adult softball leagues can take to the diamonds, executive director George Arcand of Softball Yukon explained Thursday.

By Chuck Tobin on May 4, 2018

It’s going to be a while yet before the adult softball leagues can take to the diamonds, executive director George Arcand of Softball Yukon explained Thursday.

He said the minor ball fields are good to go and league play will begin Monday as scheduled but there’s a ways to go before the complex and diamonds three, four and five across the road are ready.

The Robert Service fields are coming along, and teams are practising on them, he said.

Arcand said there are no rule changes for regular season softball this year, but there are three rule changes for Dustball scheduled for July 12, 13, 14, 15:

• In the seeding round to determine in which division teams will play, each batter will have two balls and one strike on them when they step into the box, in what Arcand is describing as a three-pitch format.

“We are doing that to try and speed up the game and get in as many innings as possible,” Arcand said.

He said the time limit for the games will remain the same.

• Also aimed at speeding up the game is the new home run, walk-off rule. The batter who hits a home run will go straight to the dugout, without having to run the bases to score. And every runner on base will walk straight to the dugout.

• The five-run rule that limits teams to a maximum of five runs per inning has been altered for the men’s and women’s A-divisions. The team trailing will be allowed to tie the game before the five-run rule comes into effect. So if a team is behind 10-7, they’ll be able to score eight runs – three to tie, along with the five-run maximum.

The intent is to make for a better game in the higher calibre ball where teams can easily score in excess of five runs in an inning to catch up, said Arcand. He said the five-run rule change is being viewed as a pilot project and will be assessed after Dustball to see how it worked.

The executive director pointed out there are no major championships this year, but there is the return after 20 years of more of the slo-pitch leagues for men and women, in addition the co-ed league.

Five of the six positions on Softball Yukon’s board of directors were up for election at the April 24 annual general assembly. The position of president held by Bill Stonehouse was not up for election.

Brian White, Matt Kremer, Kim Montour, and Robb Andison were returned but Meghan Stonehouse was replaced in the election by Chad Curlew.

Arcand said the annual budget approved at the AGM calls for expenditures of $242,000 with anticipated revenue of $399,000. The budget is typical of an annual budget in years with no major events like last year’s World fastball championships for men, he said.

Arcand said while anticipated revenue always outstrips expenses, the cushion is built-in to provide for the unexpected, and there’s generally something that comes along.

There is still the matter of turning on the irrigation system for diamonds one and two in the complex and the question of whether this winter’s weird weather of freezing and thawing had any impact on the underground pipes, he pointed out.

Arcand noted the melting and freezing created an unusual buildup of ice on the screen above the batting cages, resulting in too much weight that caused part of the structure to collapse.

They haven’t estimated what the repairs will cost, as the focus currently is getting the season going, he said.


Co-ed president Harold Risby said Thursday the 49-team league is likely not going to get going until May 21 because of the late spring and the conditions of the diamond.

Diamonds one and two at the Pepsi Centre are still wet and diamonds three, four and five are currently a write-off, he said.

Risby said they were hoping to kick off play beginning Monday, and they’re optimistic it might be a go for May 14 but realistically it’s looking more like the 21st.

The season’s schedule has not been finalized, and it has not yet been determined whether to address the delay in the start by cutting games or extending the season, Risby said.

The number of teams was at 50 but there was a late withdrawal so the league is looking for another team so that one of three divisions doesn’t end up in a situation where it has a weekly bye for one team, he said.

He said there are no major rule changes for the league this season.

The newly-elected president said the only substantial change is the loss of the A Division.

Three of the four A-Division teams from last year were not fielding a club this season so the fourth has been compressed into tier one of the B-Division, he explained.

Risby said he’s hoping it will provide the B-Division clubs with the opportunity to see that they can compete against the higher-level teams, and perhaps lead the revival of an A-Division in the future.

The three executive members of the co-ed league went to great lengths to ensure the dividing line between the two tiers of B-Division was a fair split, he said.

Risby said he and vice-president Breton Fraser and secretary-treasurer Meghan Stonehouse combed through the rosters and looked at the experience and reputation of the individual teams to guide their decisions. Eight teams will play in tier one of the B-Division and eight will be in level two, he explained.

Risby said the same approach was used for establishing the dividing line in the C- Division.

Setting up the two levels of the D-Division was less meticulous because D-ball is
less serious, he said.

Nonetheless, Risby added, if there are teams in D dominating or getting dominated consistently, they’ll attempt to rebalance the two tiers at the mid-season point.

The league president said there will definitely be rebalancing in the B and C divisions come mid-season.

It’s been something that’s always been talked about, but never really enforced, he said.

“We are going to stay on transitioning to try and get a more balanced league.”

League fees are set at $80 a player with a $450 sponsorship fee.


After 20 years or more, they’re back.

For the first time since the mid- to late-1990s, the Whitehorse slo-pitch scene will include a men’s division and a women’s division, under the umbrella of the Whitehorse Senior Slo-pitch League.

League co-president Kris King explained Thursday he is more or less looking after the men’s division and co-president Amber Allison will be overseeing the women’s.

King said he was interested in the idea of a men’s league, and was talking to veteran ball player Blaine “Bubba” Demchuk. Demchuk told him executive director George Arcand of Softball Yukon and Michael Tuton, the organization’s new program co-ordinator, had previously expressed an interest in the idea, he said.

King called Tuton, the meeting was on and the matter was brought before the April 24 annual general meeting of Softball Yukon.

Approval was received to provide the men and women with diamond time, he said.

King said the men will be playing back-to-back at the Pepsi Centre Mondays on diamond #1, with one game at Robert Service #3 the same night.

The women will be playing back-to-back Wednesdays the Pepsi Centre, he said.

King said initially he sent out a call for players or teams to express an interest, but was not overwhelmed with responses. So it was decided to keep the men’s league to six teams and women’s league to four teams.

After they’d booked their diamonds, however, there was flurry of additional interest but the league has decided to keep the numbers at six and four, not wanting to stretch themselves too thin in the first season, he said.

King said he thinks there’s probably enough interest to support eight men’s teams, and maybe even 10.

Players opting to play in men’s, women’s and co-ed will have to pay two registration fees, as both leagues will require separate insurance plans, he explained.

King said players want to play in the co-ed league and have fun.

Having a separate men’s and women’s league provides an opportunity to perhaps play in a more competitive atmosphere, or at least to experience a different game, he said.

The season will go for eight weeks, and will end July 9 for men and July 11 for women, just before the start of Dustball.

By creating additional options for players who want to play more ball, he suspects there’ll be fewer cross-over players in the co-ed league who play in two-divisions to get their fill.

Registration fees are set at $60 per player, along with a $450 sponsorship fee.

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