D’IBERVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - Youth baseball players are back on the diamond just in time to enjoy a late season of summer ball.
State health leaders have approved the reopening of youth sports but are advising that strict precautions be taken. At the governor’s press conference Monday, officials said they are investigating multiple cases of the virus spread through large gatherings, like sporting events.
For organizations like the Cal Ripken Youth Baseball League in D’Iberville, that means going to bat for the kid to make sure precautions are being taken.
“Families are ready to get out of the house and kids are ready to get back to play baseball," said Mark Holmes, who coaches a 12U team. "You know, get out there and get some exercise and enjoy the day.”
As players and their families start to feel comfortable heading out to the diamond to play ball, youth baseball teams are working to find ways to stay safe.
“Before every single game, we have to sign the sheet saying that our kids have no symptoms, and there’s a long list of questions you have to answer," said baseball mom April Parkman. “Also, you’ll see the dugout moms spraying everything constantly.”
After being postponed all spring, the players and their families are happy to be back playing America’s favorite pasttime.
“I’m definitely relieved to have sports back in my life," said Evan Smith, the older brother of two young players.
Holmes said the kids were rusty when they first returned to the D’Iberville Cal Ripken Youth Baseball League on June 2. With practice, the kids have now shifted their focus to hitting game-winning homeruns while the league and parents work on keeping them safe.
Some parents sat on the outskirts of the field to watch the games from a distance. Other families sat closer to the baseball diamond in small pods.
Holmes said due to the nature of the sport, it’s hard to keep the kids apart while they compete.
“They’re throwing the same baseball, some of them swinging the same bats, you know, things of that sort," said Holmes. “We practice together, run together."
The Mississippi Department of Health has approved the reopening of youth sports but have set guidelines. Those include the following:
- All participants must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19
- Concessions must remain closed
- 100 person maximum per field, including fans
- Limit of 2 fans per player
- Fans outside of family group must maintain 6 feet of separation
- Bleachers shall be closed to fans