At this point in time, there has been very little unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Spring sports have taken a big hit but one of the few saving graces for high school sports fans in Iowa has been the untouched baseball and softball seasons…until now that is.
On Friday, April 10, both the IHSAA and the IGHSAU announced pushbacks to the respective 2020 baseball and softball seasons. The announcement included delays to each respective season as the first official practices for both softball and baseball are set for May 18. That marks a 14-day difference from the original practice date of May 4. As for competition, instead of a May 25 start date, the 2020 season is now set to begin competition on June 1.
The announcement now marks three of the four sports seasons that have been affected in some way by the outbreak. It effectively means, should the season occur at all, that baseball and softball teams would lose out on a full week of practice plus several early-season games. It marks yet another unfortunate setback but one which was needed in the eyes of many coaches including ADM head baseball coach Jason Book.
“I feel that it was a positive move,” began Book. “I was looking down my roster of players and who was also in spring sports and there are quite a few guys. Our practices would be very limited and we could be playing up to three weeks of baseball without many starters if the season began on time.”
The players themselves are also a point of emphasis as Book mentioned with so many balls up in the air.
“The move is a definite positive for the kids themselves, especially those involved in spring sports,” began Book. “They’d already have a lot of stress on them with school work and the uncharted waters of what’s school going to be like after a month and a half off. A big thing is not to overload the students so if that means we lose a week or so of our season, I’m very ok with that.”
On paper, the push back seems like just another aspect thrown into the pandemic conversation that never seems to have an end. What has transpired does put a damper on things but as coach Book went on to talk about, there’s a bigger picture to look at.
“If we were cut down to half a season I would still be grateful just to get back out there,” said Book. “Right now there’s no guarantee that we will or will not have a season. We just have to keep positive.”
Should school get back in session and the summer sports season remains intact, even the pushed back schedule won’t rid coaches of unique challenges along the way, beginning with practices.
“We’ll still have challenges to go through, we’re losing a week of practice and while that’s fine in the long run, we’ll still have to be mindful of a lot of things,” began Book. “We’ll have to share the athletes and their time as spring sports wrap up. We’ll have to make adjustments to our practice time and get creative on how we can maximize our practice time, get some morning practices in and/or move practices late.”
Only time will tell if baseball and softball diamonds will be graced with competition in 2020 but for now, there’s hope on the horizon for summer sports and, baring any changes, will begin with practices May 18.