Players getting another chance
COLUMBIANA — The Mahoning Valley High School Baseball League is trying to give area players some of what they missed this spring.
At least seven local teams are expected to compete beginning in mid-June.
“We want seniors to play if they want to, because they didn’t get to play this year,” Columbiana coach Ryan Wolf said.
Columbiana, United and Western Reserve played last year and will be joined by Lisbon, Salem, South Range and Springfield, according to Wolf. Crestview is waiting to see if it has enough players.
The entire spring sports season was lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is something we did last year and I know some others have did in the past,” Wolf said. “A lot of times (there is not much interest) because Class B is so big, along with Tri-T and Colt leagues. We’re seeing a little bit more interest this year because of the situation we’re in.”
The league schedule will be flexible with players participating in other sports and working.
“The goal is to start around June 15, if everything goes well the next two weeks,” Wolf said. “We plan on scheduling three games a week for five weeks and evaluate where at and see we want want to have a tournament.”
Games are expected to be at the participating schools, except for Springfield, Wolf said.
“Schools are looking at things differently,” he said.
Most of the coaches will be the high school coaches.
“Every sport has unlimited contact through Aug. 31. Typically it was 10 days in June and July,” Wolf said. “As soon as Sept. 1 comes, everything goes back to the way it was before.”
Columbiana will open athletic training on Monday with restrictions. Coaches want their players to slowly get back into the routine.
“That’s why we’re having two weeks of practice, we’re trying to build our arms up,” Wolf said. “We’ll start off having five-inning games. We don’t want to see anyone getting stretched out too far. We are slowly going to build things up.”
Players will have to follow safety precautions like only using their own bats and helmets.
“Our No. 1 priority is safety,” Wolf said. “We want them to have a good time playing baseball, but also be safe.”
How the summer leagues fare should have an impact on what happens with the fall sports season.
“This will be a good test,” Wolf said. “If we get to the point where we think it is not safe or worth it, we’ll pull the plug.”