WAYNE – Over the past two and a half weeks, baseball and softball teams across Nebraska have been planning out what a possible summer sports season could look like and the Wayne Baseball Association is looking to finalize some loose ends as practices are allowed to begin.
Monday, June 1 is the first day baseball and softball teams will be allowed to practice as June 18 would be the earliest a game could be played.
Wendy Heikes is the president of the Wayne Baseball Association and said her initial reaction was shock that youth baseball and softball was going to open up.
“With all the restrictions and guidelines, it’s going to be a trying time for these players and coaches this summer,” said Heikes. “I think our senior boys (Post 43) are going to be really happy. With this talented group of boys, I think they need to be playing, especially with the school season being cancelled for them.”
During the entire month of May, no organized team sports were allowed to take place for both youth and adults. On May 11, Governor Ricketts released the guidelines for baseball and softball to reopen.
Starting June 19, Wayne Post 43 Junior and Senior American Legion teams will be playing a tentative schedule on Wednesday and Friday nights with some pickup games possibly added. For youth baseball, the Tri-County League has cancelled their season but the Wayne didgets, broncos and ponies will join four other teams in the area.
“There may be more that come forward,” Heikes added. “I know some of these towns are having a tough time because their cities have shut their parks down. So, they have no place to practice or play games. So, if they find a way to make that happen, we may have some more teams interested in playing.”
Other towns joining Wayne for youth baseball include Wakefield, Howells-Dodge, Pierce and Pender.
As of the weekend, Battle Creek Jrs/Srs, Columbus Lakeview Jrs/Srs, Crofton Jrs/Srs, Hooper-Scribner Srs only and West Point Jrs/Srs will join the Wayne Jrs/Srs as of now for games in mid-June.
All coaches will be responsible to adhere that social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible and all shared equipment must be sanitized before and after each practice.
The Wayne Baseball Association also recently sent out an email to all the parents in regards how the season could look along with giving them the option for their child to play or not to play.
“If that is a case and a child can’t play or isn’t able to, we will reimburse them some sort of reimbursement for the year,” Heikes mentioned. “But if the players are choosing to play, no matter if we play a season of five games or 10 games that fee will remain the same.”
Beginning June 18, baseball and softball teams will be allowed to begin playing games unless circumstances dictate a change in date. The use of dugouts will only be permitted during games. Bleachers located between the dugout and home plate should be used to spread out players. Each player should have a designated spot to place their personal items.
The Wayne Baseball Association has been in constant talk with the city officials. The City of Wayne is wanting the associations (baseball/softball) to take the liability at the facility and on the field.
“So, we’re in charge of all the sanitizing of equipment, dugout, restrooms if they’re open,” said Heikes. “We’re probably have to have a waiver signed by our players to play just so that they know that they’re aware of what they’re coming into possibility; with the COVID situation.”
Fan attendance will be limited to household members of the players on the team and fans will not be allowed to use the bleachers; they must provide their own chairs or stand six-feet apart from other household units. No fan seating is allowed in the area behind home plate to six feet past the far end of each dugout.
Again, both of the baseball and softball associations are in communication on coordinating what practices and games would look like.
“I think we all are on the same page,” Heikes added. “We’re wanting just the players and the coaches on the facility ground (Summer Sports Complex). Any spectators, including family, we’d like to see watching behind the fence around the outfield.”
There will also be space on both sides of the dugouts at Hank Overin Field with spots on the outside of the fence available.
Once each game ends, there’ll be no postgame handshakes or interaction between teams and no post-game talks at the field are permitted.
Concession stands are also not allowed to be open.