WEST ALEXANDRIA — After Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement that low-contact or non-contact sports could resume on May 26, Eaton Little League and the West Alexandria Baseball Organization have recently begun their respective seasons.
Players and coaches will be allowed to return to the baseball diamond, but it won’t be without set rules and mandates in accordance with the reopening of Ohio.
Some of the restrictions for participation in baseball, softball and batting cages include mandatory six-foot social distancing (with the exception of when the ball is in play), no team water coolers or shared drink stations and daily symptom self-evaluation by coaches and players, according to https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/.
Eaton Little League
Eaton Little League announced in a Facebook post on May 21 they would be returning to play for the upcoming season.
Their season was kicked off on Monday, June 8, with games lasting throughout the week. The season is expected to last through July 25.
Todd Appledorn, Treasurer of the Eaton Little League Board, spoke to The Register-Herald about the board’s decision to return play ball in 2020.
“As a board, we reached out to all our parents or tried to reach out to all our parents and to see what parents would feel comfortable under the guidelines…of course, the guidelines have changed with no masks [required], so that was a very, very plus for us, to be able to play better without any of those restrictions,” Appledorn said. “We still are using the guidelines. I mean, we have to. Each child comes off the field they have to de-sanitize their hands. Every half-inning we change the balls out. No handshaking, no high-fives, no things like that. Try to social distance as best as we possibly can.”
The Eaton Little League Board had to make a decision while initially believing that face masks would be a requirement for the season to be played.
“We actually had a vote within our board. Believe it or not, it came down to a 6-4 vote. Six to have the season, four not, so there was definitely a split within the board because of the restrictions of being able to play,” Appledorn said. “Ended up passing and we’re having the season but yeah, that was one of the things that was gonna be tough on a lot of our minds was, can we be able to have a fun season even with restrictions?”
Though the board made the decision to move forward with the season, not all parents and coaches felt comfortable returning to play.
“We did have some coaches decide to say, you know, we’re just not gonna risk it due to, I think some family members of theirs had some critical illnesses. We understand that. You’ve got to,” Appledorn said. “You just want to make sure that they’re in the best interest of themselves and in the best interest of their families, and so they decided to not play the season, so which is fine, and we’re going to love to see them next year.”
Above all else, Appledorn and the Eaton Little League Board are excited for the kids to see each other once again and for the chance to have some normalcy for the kids this summer.
“The kids haven’t seen each other since the middle March, so when they got out of school, and to see some of these guys that haven’t seen each other in two, three months, it’s good to see their friends. Same with the parents. Some parents haven’t seen each other two, three months,” Appledorn said. “You’ll see it in the stands where they’ll social distance up in the stands, but they’re having conversations and it seems to get back into the swing of things, so that’s really, really, really good.”
West Alexandria Baseball Organization
According to a Facebook post from the West Alexandria Baseball Organization, the WABO Board met May 14 and voted to move forward with the 2020 season in accordance with state guidelines.
After a summer filled with questions surrounding when players may be able to take the field again, West Alexandria Baseball Organization President Adam Craft is excited to get moving with their season.
“The governor and the state health director removed some of the restrictions to where we felt like we could move forward and have a safe season,” Craft said to The Register-Herald. “That’s what we were endeavoring to do for our kids.”
As opposed to Eaton Little League’s Board, the WABO Board was nearly unanimous in deciding on a return to play, and parents of participating children were mostly supportive as well.
“Most of the parents that we’ve talked to have said, ‘We can’t wait to get our children out and get them, you know, some kind of normalcy for their summer. You know, we can’t wait to do it,’” Craft said. “So, I’ve talked to a lot of parents and they’re like, ‘Get these kids out of the house.’”
While most were in favor of returning to play, some participants had to step back due to health concerns.
“We’ve had a few in the league that have decided not to move forward with the season and proceed with the season. Some of them are underlying health reasons, some immune deficiencies, respiratory illness, things like that. This COVID-19 will be a little bit more of a tax on their immune system,” Craft said. “So those folks, we’ve issued them all full refunds, but I would say overwhelmingly, we’re less than 10 percent of those folks have actually dropped out of the league. So we’re really excited going forward with our season.”
The focus will be on making sure all state guidelines are followed to protect the coaches and children involved, but Craft and the board wanted to ensure that the children would still be able to have a summer
“We want the kids to be able to have a summer and be able to be together,” Craft. “We’re a tight-knit community. We miss each other. We need to be together at this time, possibly more so than any other time.”
WABO games began last week and are expected to last through the middle or end of July.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @BradenMoles