While youth baseball season has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, presidents at area little leagues are hopeful that play can begin at the end of May.
Starting at that time would put them about a month behind schedule, but, if all goes according to plan, the presidents will extend the season into August, rather than wrapping up mid-June per usual. They also will eliminate the All-Star games that typically follow the end of the regular seasons to give kids as much time as possible to play.
“We’re … going to forgo participation in any of the All-Star tournaments. We already made that choice just so we can give our kids as much baseball for everybody," said Tom Mashino, Russiaville Little League president. "In total, between our T-ball all the way up to 12 year olds, we had 347 registered players this year. We were just doing as much as we could to get as much baseball in for those kids.”
Although no official decisions have been made yet, all eight of the area league presidents have been working to still have the city tournament as time and restrictions allow, according to Mashino. Though area presidents said they do not want to see a complete cancellation of the season, they did not rule out the possibility if stay-at-home orders continue to be extended.
Northside Little League President Robbie Pattengale said his tentative schedule has been pushed back almost as far as it can go without running too close to school activities.
“We’re almost as deep as we can go. I’d say we could push back another week, week-and-a-half, and that would be about to the point where we’d just have to look at maybe just canceling the entire thing, which I don’t want to do for all the kids. But at the same time, I guess safety first,” Pattengale said.
Mashino said the Russiaville league potentially will cancel the spring season if necessary and have a late summer/extended fall season. Russiaville typically has a spring and fall season every year, according to Mashino, but the fall season usually has about half the enrollment numbers as the spring season.
“In the grand scheme of things you have to think, ‘It’s just baseball. Nobody’s going to remember in 10 or 15 years. Nobody’s going to remember who won this game or who won that game.’ So, the idea of doing all the social distancing and keeping everybody away from each other in order [to], as they keep saying, ‘flatten the curve,’ I think it’s the right call just because the safety and well-being of our players, their families, [and] the people involved in our league is the number-one concern,” Taylor Southeast Little League President Kirk Wiley said.