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July 8, 2020

6/24/2020 1:33:00 PM
Baseball/softball returning to park in July
Johnathon Kipper

With the newly constructed pool opening to visitors at the North Vernon City Park last Sunday, people may be wondering when a few more traditional summer activities at the park may return.

The answer? July 13.

The start of youth baseball and softball at the park was delayed due to COVID-19. However, with more and more restrictions being lifted by the governor, the youth sports leagues will be able to start playing games soon.

Currently, there are around 19 teams for both baseball and softball signed up this year, roughly down 30 percent from years prior. The ongoing pandemic may play a factor in those numbers, which Park Director Chad Speer says could be a main reason, but not the only one.

"There are some kids entering middle school who will play sports this fall and summer league will overlap with the school schedule," Speer said. "There has also been a downward trend in youth sports across the country over the last decade. It's a combination of these things and more so with COVID-19."

Games will start at the park for both baseball and softball on Monday, July 13, and continue throughout the rest of the summer. Baseball will play games on Mondays and Wednesdays, with softball playing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays are planned for rain out dates.

The end of the year tournament will still happen, as the league will wrap up its season on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. This will coincide with the fireworks show at the park, which recently was pushed back from Independence Day to Labor Day Weekend due to crowd restriction numbers.

Precautions will be in force

In terms of safety and social distancing, the park is taking precautions to ensure the safety of the players, coaches, and families. Bleachers have been either removed or taped off around the fields, helmets will not be provided like in years past to everyone, and disinfecting spray will be available to spray down dugouts and any shared gear, such as catcher'Äôs gear. Coaches will be asked to spray down shared gear between every inning and dugouts between every game.

Helmets will be provided to families who need help getting one for their kids. Bleachers may also return at some point during the season, depending on the governor's orders.

"We are asking coaches to let parents know that we are not saying you cannot watch other games, but there's no need to be there an hour before the game starts," Speer said. "A lot of crowd restrictions are expected to go away after July Fourth, but people still need to be aware of social distancing."

Practices are now in full swing.

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