By Garrett Hinchey
Originally Published in the Yellowknifer August 10th, 2012
With one week left in the YK Fastball League’s regular season and the league championship playoffs looming from August 17th to 19th, it’s time for the final stop in our season-long series introducing the league’s teams. Last up: the Slo-Poke Twins.
The Slo-Poke Twins are in their first season in the YK Fastball League, and are sponsored and primarily supplied with players from the Yellowknife Slo-Pitch Association, the largest softball league in the NWT. The team, born with the approval of league members at this year’s AGM, has managed to turn some heads this season despite having a roster mainly filled with players new to fastball.
However, there are two notable exceptions to the Slo-Pokes’ fastball inexperience: on the mound, and behind the plate. The team managed to recruit NWT fastball legend to handle the bulk of its pitching action this season, and he hasn’t disappointed – leading the league in ERA and strikeouts, and often single-handedly keeping the ‘Pokes in games when their bats are lagging behind. Backing up Gard is fellow fastball veteran Mike Aumond, who was pulled out of retirement to give the Twins a solid 1-2 punch on the hill. Handling the catching duties this season have been league veteran and team batting average leader James Pugsley and YK Slo-Pitch President Trevor Bourque, who has subscribed to the “school of hard knocks” when it comes to catching but has improved vastly throughout the season.
Most slo-pitch players making the transition to fastball often have difficulty catching up to the game’s quicker pitching. However, where the Slo-Pokes have surprised this season is in the effectiveness of their bats. Led by speedy Spencer Lyman and brothers Chris and Eric Aitken, and bolstered by power hitters Ron Chiasson, Chris Puglia and Conal Ramsey, the Twins have adjusted quickly to the faster game’s learning curve and their bats have rounded into form during the season. YK Fastball veteran Barry Bessette, speedy outfielder James Farrell, and Dana Gard – the league’s only female player – round out a lineup that continues to surprise opposing pitchers night after night.
Where the Twins have felt the sting of the faster game, however, is occasionally on the defensive end – used to the larger diamonds and slower pace of slopitch, the Slo-Pokes often force Gard and Aumond to make multiple outs due to fielding and throwing errors. Such is the learning curve for newcomers into the YK Fastball League, but the ‘Pokes have had some impressive results this season – shutting out Territorial champions Slades in an early-season matchup and currently residing in fourth place in the league standings. If things break right for the Slo-Poke Twins next weekend, they could turn an impressive season into a truly memorable one with a YK Fastball League Championship.