Summer softball

Softball is among the many things youth can usually do in the summer in Cleveland, St. Peter, Le Sueur, Le Center and other communities in the area. (Richard Rohlfing/St. Peter Herald file photo)

Minnesota youth baseball, softball and soccer teams have been allowed to resume practices as soon as June 1 following Gov. Tim Waltz’s approval of Phase 2 of the Safe Return to Play Plan and Return to the Diamond.

Teams, however, are limited to groups of 10 or smaller on each field.

Baseball and softball teams will be permitted to play an abbreviated season starting June 15, with the number of spectators limited and distancing guidelines and safety measures in place.

St. Peter Fastpitch Softball Association has decided to cancel the 2020 summer season.

"After a lot of discussion, the girls softball board has decided to cancel our 2020 summer season," St. Peter Girls Fastpitch Softball Association President James Dunn said Monday. "We do plan to form teams in the fall and play again next year. However, we just were not convinced that we could safely play games right now. We also did 100% refund for registration fees, and we are not asking families to return the discount cards that they received back in February."

Youth baseball in the city still has hope.

“St. Peter Baseball Association, as it stands now, is scheduled to start practicing in groups of 10 or less on Monday, June 8,” President Ron Guappone said. “That would be for our 11- to 18-year-old kids. We cancelled the season for B and C leagues, which are our 8- to 10-year-olds. That being said, on June 4, we should have a final answer on a 2020 actual season at all. MBL is currently hoping to have the go ahead to start games on June 15. If they are told they can’t do that, it sounds like they will cancel the season and move on to preparing for fall ball, which historically, we have not participated in.”

TCU youth baseball director Greg Westerman said he hopes the leagues don’t try to cram a full season into six weeks or push into August, which had historically been a month of rest.

“As for TCU baseball specifically, we are still planning to participate if that’s the decision,” Westerman said. “The last couple weeks we have seen some teams doing some practicing, but limiting to groups of 10 or smaller on each field. It sounds like amateur baseball is in about the same spot.”

LS-H youth baseball director Matt Hathaway said:"We are starting to hold practices, no league schedules yet. We are looking at options to play an abbreviated season within the governor’s guidelines, but nothing is set yet.”

Le Sueur-Henderson fastpitch softball head coach Eric Lewis said: “We are making plans for the potential to go back and play. Stop in a holding pattern.”

In the initial letters submitted to Walz earlier this month, the start of competitive baseball and softball games were proposed to look like this:

When games would take place, all players, coaches and umpires would enter through one entrance and exit through another, observing social distancing guidelines throughout. Parents and spectators would have separate seating away from the backstop and dugouts. Only players, up to three coaches and umpires would be allowed on the field. Spectators can only view the game from the outfield past first and third base along the foul lines.

- Dugouts would be extended to behind the dugout to the backstop for both teams to practice proper social distancing. Hand and equipment sanitizing would take place between innings. No more than three to five individuals could be in the dugout at any given time and would have to maintain proper social distancing.

- Coaches and umpires will not be able to shake hands or have any physical contact with each other while maintaining proper social distancing. Players and coaches will have to refrain from high five or other physical gestures of celebration.

- Teams would no longer shake hands at the end of the game and instead would tip their caps to the opponent following the game.

- Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes would be used during and after the game should someone come into contact with shared equipment like bases. Players would wear batting gloves as much as possible and would refrain from sharing equipment.

- Each team would need to provide its own balls, which would be switched out or sanitized each inning.

- Players, spectators, umpires and coaches would be recommended to wear CDC-approved face masks.

- Umpires would call the game from behind the pitcher’s mound and maintain proper social distancing between all fielders. Umpires should also wear gloves if they intend to handle balls and change gloves after each use following touching a ball.

Soccer

The Minnesota Youth Soccer Association 2020 league seasons have been canceled.

Soccer clubs, including St. Peter, Le Sueur and Tri-City United, may start offering modified training sessions that strictly follow Phase 2 guidelines in the Return to Play plan. These modified trainings are the only in-person activities allowed.

“As a club, we have canceled all team activities and are refunding 100 percent of our season registration fees,” St. Peter Soccer Club President Brian Combs said Saturday. “Any soccer activities we offer this summer will be free of charge. We’re still working on designing some training/camp activities that conform to all MDH (Minnesota Department of Heath), MYSA and MASC (Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission) guidelines.”

Le Sueur Recreation does not have traveling teams in the MYSA, only recreational, noncompetitive classes for the younger players. “The program has been postponed until further notice,” Le Sueur Recreation Supervisor Alyssa Pink said.”

TCU Soccer Club, which serves Montgomery, Lonsdale and Le Center, is a member of the MYSA and has two levels of play — recreation and recreation plus — which are postponed.

St. Peter Herald Sports Editor covers St. Peter, Cleveland, Le Center, Le Sueur-Henderson and Tri-City United and Gustavus Adolphus College. Fishing, tennis and golf enthusiast

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