A team manager meeting to discuss changes to softball showed a shift in mentality as managers were scattered to social distance. PHOTO COURTESY MARJORIE KNAUB

Softball amidst COVID-19

Some players step up to the plate and point their bats to the fenceline – a nod to Babe Ruth’s iconic 1932 World Series–called home run. Is there actually anything more American than baseball? People in this community might argue that summer would not feel like summer without playing baseball’s close cousin – softball. The fields were created by a legion of local volunteers. Rocks were picked-up by neighborhood kids – some who now play on the fields as adults. A place of camaraderie was created where competition thrives and friendships are strengthened. Good-natured rivalries are born and even some traditions – like the Hawaiian shirt clad Yeti Dogs’ pre-game playing of the National Anthem where everyone in attendance stops, removes their hats and shows respect for the flag.

In these COVID days, many locals were wondering if they would be able to knock back a few beers at the community park and try to knock a few pitches over the fence this summer.

Big Sky Community Organization says yes – but there will be some shifts and safety measures in place. The historically boisterous championship games will not occur this year. Games will be limited to two per night Monday-Thursday to limit interaction between teams. Team managers are to checkin with players prior to games to ensure they have completed standard Centers for Disease Control self-screening questions. There will be a cap on how many people can be playing and spectating – 50, to be exact. No more than 15 players will be allowed in the dugout and hand sanitizer will be dispersed.

Mackenzie Johnson, program manager for BSCO said that there was just as much community interest in softball. In fact, 14 teams signed-up this year – the exact same number as last year.

Johnson noted the specific safeguards in place: clear communication, guidelines, policies and procedures, and a communicable disease clause on the player liability waiver.

“It will be a league effort to hold each other accountable,” she said. “If a confirmed COVID-19 case is directly linked to softball, and participants have been exposed, games will be canceled for the health and safety of our community.”

Scientific research noted in San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times articles suggests that being outside significantly lowers the risk of transmission if people are not crowding together.

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