Little League baseball to return to Warren
After a long and extended wait, it looks as if Little League baseball is finally set to return to Warren County this summer.
Following a seven-year hiatus, the Warren County Youth Baseball/Softball Association announced a new charter with Little League in 2020. The new charter included several new-look divisions and a return to all-star tournament play from districts to sectionals to states.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted those efforts and the WCYBSA decided to take a careful approach, canceling its 2020 season.
“It was disappointing,” WCYBSA board president Jeremy Wyman said. “But player safety is (of the utmost importance). We erred on the side of caution. Not a lot was known about COVID (at the time). We just felt it was better to forego the season. The positive out of that is we were able to get some funding. We are going to be doing some different things around the area for the fields. We actually secured a grant from the Pittsburgh Pirates Fields for Kids (program) to help us put in a new infield at Betts-Jackson. Sheetz also donated toward that. … We have got big plans for Betts-Jackson for the upcoming season once the weather breaks here. … The board wanted to thank businesses that are supporting our capital fund that we have going on right now. We are really putting a focus into field improvements.”
Currently, in addition to several key field renovations, it seems as if a plan is in place to allow kids to play this summer in a safe and responsible manner, which is critical to the WCYBSA board.
“We’ve taken some of the things and considerations from Little League International,” Wyman explained when asked about a few of the protocols the association plans to follow. “They are going forward with the states, east regions and the Little League World Series.
Wyman added: “We felt that we can at least do a season this year. We are planning on all stars, but that is going to be up in the air with how things go. We have got a plan in place and we are going to be following local and state suggestions and recommendations. We actually have to put a plan … together as part of our charter and submit that to Little League International every year.”
Wyman added: “We are going to be purchasing the no-touch thermometers for each team so coaches can check temperatures prior to practice (and games). We are going to put out guidance that pretty much any place is following right now. You know, if you do not feel well, do not show up. …We would rather err on the side of caution. We are going to have some personal protective equipment and dugouts that are at the Farm Colony (Complex), the Betts-Jackson (Complex) and the Smith Complex that are going to have pump stations with hand sanitizer.”
When it comes down to it, baseball and softball provide kids with an important platform to express themselves while keeping busy and active during the summer months. It also provides them with an opportunity to build long-lasting friendships and continue to grow and develop while participating in an activity that they genuinely enjoy.
“It’s up there in importance,” Wyman said regarding boys and girls having that opportunity to participate in Little League again. “The kids have to get out and be able to do things as long as they can socially distance. With baseball and softball, when they are in the field, there is plenty of space between them. One thing we are going to ask of the players and parents is that the fans are socially distanced if they are watching. We are going to have to follow the outdoor capacity regulations. Also, we are going to ask players who are in the dugouts to wear their masks or space out appropriately outside of the field of play, so they are separated enough. …We are all itching to go. We just had our monthly meeting here last week and we are getting things ready.”
Registration for players is currently open and, according to Wyman, the league already has over 400 kids registered. Registration is open until Feb. 28 and there is a late registration period from March 1-14 that comes with a $40 late fee. The association does offer player sponsorships for families that may be struggling financially. Any questions can be directed to Wyman via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The association also has an official website and Facebook page with more information. The WCYBSA will be offering the challenger division again this season, which accommodates players ages 4-18 with physical or intellectual challenges. There is no fee for the challenger division.