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PLAY BALL!

Gov. Reynolds, IHSAA, IGHSAU all green light HS baseball and softball starting June 1
Clear Creek Amana’s Ainsley Schrock celebrates after tagging out a Mount Vernon Mustang at the plate Thursday June 1, 2019, during a varsity double header in Oxford.

JOHNSTON– The words “Play ball!” will be heard this summer on high school baseball and softball diamonds across the state after months of wondering and waiting due to COVID-19-induced cancellation of the spring sports season on April 17 and the termination of the remainder of the traditional school year.
On Wednesday, May 20, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the summer sports season could proceed, and approved the reopening of school facilities beginning on Monday, June 1.
In response, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) and Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) issued a joint statement that afternoon stating the first contests may begin on Monday, June 15, and that fans will be permitted to attend the games. Various scenarios, which have emerged in recent weeks, included the suggestion of barring fans and live-streaming athletic events. However, as of this edition’s deadline, it is not yet certain how individual school districts or athletic conferences will facilitate fan attendance.
“The IHSAA thanks Dr. Ann Lebo (Director, Iowa Dept. of Education), Governor Reynolds, Dr. Caitlin Pedati (state epidemiologist), the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and all who have worked diligently to develop these guidelines to help us conduct a baseball season for the young people in Iowa,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said in the joint statement. “We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe. This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”
“The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said. “We are grateful for their leadership and support.
“We know the games will have different circumstances and that we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
Originally the first practices were set for Monday, May 4, for softball and Monday, May 18, for baseball.
Kurt Ronnfeldt, the Activities Director for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) School District said in a May 20 email the WaMaC Conference was slated to meet the following morning to go over options for finalizing the schedule while Liberty High Athletic Director Mike Morrison, also in a May 20 email, said the Mississippi Valley Conference (MVC) had a late afternoon meeting planned.
“Our schedule is pretty much completed,” Morrison said. “(We) Will add a couple of dates to the first week. We built for June 22 so now can back fill.”
Additional guidance from the Department of Education and the IDPH, likely regarding managing distancing for players, coaches and fans as well as regarding concession stands, screening and sanitizing procedures was anticipated the week of May 25.
“The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” Berger said. “We are grateful for their leadership and support.
“We know the games will have different circumstances and that we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
On Thursday, May 21, Dr. Lebo spoke during Reynolds’ daily press conference and addressed the summer season, saying “As the only state to offer summer interscholastic baseball and softball, Iowa is leading the nation. And, we are confident that coaches, parents, and players will make this a success.”