Farmers preparing for another season on the diamond


By: Lanny Stewart

The Neepawa Farmers are getting prepared for another season on the diamond in the Manitoba Senior Baseball League. 

The Farmers are coming off a dramatic finish to their season in 2013, as the club fell just short of winning their first championship title since 1997, losing to the Reston Rockets in a dramatic best-of-seven series. Neepawa held a 3-1 series advantage, but the Rockets stormed back, winning three straight to win their second MSBL championship in three seasons.

This year's club will be without the services of Fernando and Roberto Rodriguez. The two import players from Phoenix, AZ. played key roles for the club a year ago, especially on the mound. 

Fernando, a pitcher/infielder, picked up four wins on the mound last season, including the playoffs (4-1), throwing 62 innings with an earned run average of 2.76. Roberto meanwhile, finished with 49 innings pitched with a 2.39 ERA.

Ryan Cooper, a catcher from Chandler, AZ., will also not be back. Cooper had a solid season offensively last season, finishing with 25 hits in 28 games (second on the team).

Meanwhile, the status of longtime Farmers veteran Bryan White is also up in the air. Farmers manager Mike Levandosky says White suffered an injury playing senior hockey during the winter and he's unsure as to whether he'll be donning Farmers colours this season.

To help offset the losses on the mound, Levandosky says the club has added pitcher Jason Kirkland to the roster this season. The Portage product spent the winter months with the Toowoomba Rangers of the Pacific A Baseball League in Queensland, Australia. Prior to that, Kirkland was picked up by a team that took part in the AAA Midget Canadian Western Championship last August in Winnipeg.

Several notable veterans are also expected back, including Neepewa's Cam Tibbett, Jason Vinnell and Carberry's Torey Scott – all three members played more than 20 games with the club last season and should provide stability in the lineup. 

Levandosky also spoke highly of Daylon Creasy, a pitcher/infielder from Carberry, who had 84 plate appearances last year, posting a .293 average.

Levandosky says he's hoping to add a few more pieces to the roster, however nothing has been confirmed as of yet. 

The Farmers kick off the MSBL regular season on Tuesday, May 27 when they travel to Oak River to take on the Dodgers. The other three teams begin their respective seasons on Friday, May 30. 

File photo