WAYNE – Earlier this month, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts released reopening guidelines for youth sports initially starting with softball and baseball which got the ball rolling for associations to start planning their June schedule out.
The Dirt Devil Softball teams of 10s, 12s, 14s and the combined 16/18s team will begin practice in early June before planning their first games as early as June 18. The 8 & Under coach pitch team will not be partaking in a summer season due to concerns of numbers and adhering to social distancing. Those parents will have the option of getting reimbursed or rolling their fees over to next year’s season as a credit. Other parents who don’t feel comfortable with having their child play will also be reimbursed.
Dirt Devil President, Dallas Dorey said after hearing the possibility of playing softball, was a relief they’re were going to be able to play but they were also wondering how they could follow some of the requirements.
“But once we looked into them more, I think that we’re going be able to adhere to small groups,” said Dorey. “Obviously, if you’re doing a full infield and outfield things are socially distanced. Then just making sure that we’re documenting what we’re doing with sanitizing.”
Prior to the directives from the governor’s office, the Logan Valley softball league canceled their season and league tournament.
No organized team sports were allowed for youth or adults in the month of May.
Team organized practices for softball and baseball may begin on Monday, June 1 as dugout use will not be allowed. Players will have to line up their equipment against the fence and at least six feet apart. Parents must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players afterwards as players should also use their own gloves, helmets and bats as much as possible.
For the younger teams, it’ll be tough, but Dorey added there’ll be three to four coaches for each age group during practice.
“We’ll be able to split them up and do small groups,” Dorey added. “Whether that’s hitting, infield, outfield, throwing, baserunning. So, kind of rotate them through that and I don’t think it should be too much of an issue.”
Coaches will be responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible. All shared equipment must be sanitized before and after each practice.
Beginning June 18, softball and baseball 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.
Dorey’s hope is that every team can get in 15-20s games this summer.
“I’d consider that a successful season,” Dorey mentioned. “I know the team that I help out with, the combined 16/18s, I have about seven double headers and working on some other games right now as well.”
The Dirt Devil 16/18s planned on playing against Highway 91 on June 18 and that is being scheduled to be held at the Summer Sports Complex in Wayne.
Other opponents Dorey has lined up include Ponca, Kelly’s (Norfolk), a triangular in Wahoo with the Newman and public-school programs, West Point and Yankton, South Dakota. as one of the coaches in Tekamah is trying to put an independent team together since their association canceled their season.
Even as the June 18 date approaches, teams will still be looking to schedule games in early June as some towns are still deciding if they’re going to have a season.
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.
The Dirt Devil Softball Association is discussing with City of Wayne officials. Talking with baseball, the associations would most likely take the liability of COVID-19.
“As far as the complex goes, if there’s games down there, we could potentially not allow in any fans at all just to make things easier on us,” said Dorey. “So, it would be people watching from the outfield.”
The board will continue to meet to finalize other decisions prior to June 18.
USA Softball cancelled their district tournaments but there is still hope for state competition. State action for the 10s and 12s would be the week of July 19; the following week would be for the 14s while the older age group won’t have to register until July 1.
Dorey added later in the month of June, the coaches will talk with the parents on the possibility of traveling out of town.
“Kind of leave it up to them,” Dorey added. “I understand if people aren’t comfortable going out of town and staying in a hotel and going to where there could potentially be a little bit bigger crowds than when we’re just playing double headers. So, that is yet to be determined.”
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.