It's still up in the air when Winkler Minor Ball players will hit the diamonds for the first time this spring.
Matt Friesen, President of Winkler Minor Ball, says they would normally start the season outside, practicing and doing the finishing touches to get ready for the season, around May 1st. Regular season games normally kick off around May 8th. Friesen says with no rain over the next couple of weeks combined with some warm weather, he's confident they should make that timeline, with the regular season beginning in early May.
Friesen says having the turf at the Meridian Exhibition Centre available to Winkler Minor Ball has been absolutely fantastic to help get the kids prepared for the upcoming season. He says they've essentially been playing ball already for 2 1/2 months. When the season does start, he says they'll be ready to go.
"We've been practicing and doing different clinics, pitching clinics, and camps. Our evaluations and tryouts, we started those processes in January," added Friesen. "We've had a lot of really good community people help us out in facilitating those clinics. The Winkler Whips have done some clinics for us, people like Paul Schack, who is a collegiate baseball player who's now back in the area, he has been doing a lot of those for us," said Friesen.
Friesen went on to say that Winkler Minor Ball has a very healthy program with good numbers, and teams that have a lot of talent.
"They (teams) always have the opportunity to compete at the provincial level. Sometimes they go off to Western Canadians and a lot of our kids will play a high level of softball programs and will play for Team Manitoba Baseball and have a chance to represent their province."
Winkler Minor Ball facilitates baseball and softball programs all the way from five years old to kids who are in grade 12. "So we have a healthy Timbits program for the younger kids, it moves all the way to where it splits off into baseball or softball."
Friesen says registration numbers for this year are about 420 kids, which is a little down from their best years, pre-Covid. And for the most part, we're very happy with how many kids we have signed up to play ball this year."
Winkler will be hosting the 13 U AA Provincial Baseball Championships this year, which will take place in July, added Friesen. "We have a very talented group of kids in that area, so that would be the 13 U major baseball program. We're also hosting some other softball provincials. So those are great ways to showcase the community. A lot of teams, a lot of families come in from all parts of the province. It's a great opportunity to showcase our program. Showcase our facilities and all the other amenities our city has to offer."