BROOKVILLE — Any flurry of activity seen at Brookville Area Little League’s Zufall Field complex won’t come close to what’s usually the scene each summer. But this is no ordinary summer.
With the youth baseball and softball season already delayed and putting together a set of guidelines to deal with mitigation of the coronavirus pandemic, BALL officials wound up axing any type of schedule and canceled the season with the exception of Junior Little League (13-15 year-olds) baseball and softball.
Feedback from the league’s parents and families and a very thin list of coaches led the board to make the decision last Friday after three days of signups and the turning in of fund-raising tickets.
“I would say 25 to 30 percent (of kids and families) said no-go and we had a bunch of coaches back out because they didn’t feel like it was going to be worth their time to try to go and teach ball with the challenges of social distancing,” BALL President Mike Marrara said.
The timing of the re-start, Marrara believed, also played a part in decision-making. This is about the time where the regular season is winding to a close with All-Star and tournament team players continuing. However, most of the league’s membership would be done.
“It was pretty much the social distancing concerns, and then we had a bunch of people who said they’d play but weren’t 100 percent sure they wanted their kids on the field and then other families had weeks where they wouldn’t be here and we realized that we’re not going to have enough to fill teams throughout the week with people going on vacation,” Marrara said. “I understand all that because baseball is usually done by July and everybody is planning vacations and camping.”
So what’s Plan B? Clinics and pickup games for kids and families still interested, says Marrara who is trying to plan some events that would take less coaches to handle players. That was a problem going into the year, so the delayed start hampered efforts to staff all possible teams.
Marrara would like to have a variety of clinics, including catching and pitching for both softball and baseball. The board planned a Tuesday meeting to figure out how to move forward.
“I’m willing to do whatever we can do to get the ones who actually want to play some ball or want to be outside on the fields are whatever and we’ll do it,” Marrara said. “Maybe we’ll have some scrimmage games, pick up teams and play a game or two.”
What will happen is some type of Junior Little League schedule. Marrara said that they have up to 24 boys and 20 to 22 girls signed up for those divisions. They’ll interleague with Punxsutawney and New Bethlehem in baseball and possibly Clearfield, Clarion and Punxsutawney in softball.
Marrara said that the league registration fee — $40 to $90 per family depending on how many children play — would be refunded or credited to next season. The fund-raiser has continued as planned and tickets are still being collected. A money giveaway drawing will be planned with a date announced once tickets are returned. The drawing will be on Facebook Live on the league’s facebook page some time in July and results will also be posted on the league’s page.