Porterville Girls Fastpitch didn’t get much of a season before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut things down. But last Friday, PGF announced on Facebook they are preparing for an upcoming travel season.
However there are still many questions that need to be answered before practices can even be held. Josh Plumlee, the president of PGF, said Wednesday via Facebook Messenger that the main questions center around how they’ll handle social distancing requirements.
“There are 12-14 kids per team plus coaching staff. Do we need to keep group workouts under 10 people? Are parents included in that count?,” Plumlee said. “There is also the issue of sharing equipment: bats, balls, helmets, etc. Do we need to sterilize the balls between practice? Can the girls play catch? We have three fields at Hayes. Can we have a group on each field? Or just one group at the complex? Do we need to take temperatures each day?”
On USA Softball’s website (https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Softball), a Back to the Ballpark document provides guidelines for coaches on how to handle things, such as facilities, concessions, game play, meetings and more.
For example, USA Softball advises that water fountains should be made inoperable, coaches should wear masks all game, there should be no huddles in the circle, and umpires need to make sure catchers (and batters) are six feet away from the plate before dusting it off.
But with all the guidelines, USA softball still clearly states in the document that starting play will still be left up to local government agencies.
“USA Softball does not dictate when local state and metro associations can start playing softball during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the document reads. “Starting play will be determined by local associations working with their local governmental agencies.”
They also state that anyone “engaging in softball, and activities related to softball, do so with knowledge of the risk and potential exposure involved and agree to accept any and all inherent risks to their personal health.”
The Hot Shot’s travel softball season usually starts in mid-May but the pandemic made it impossible for teams to start playing. Currently, USA and National Softball Association (NSA) do have tournaments listed for Central California in June and July but Plumlee said he noticed NSA tournaments being cancelled weekly because of restrictions. Of the nine USA tournaments, only two tournaments show teams -- a total of just five -- registered for them.
Still, Plumlee and PGF want to have something planned and ready to go when, or if, they get confirmation they can begin their seasons.
“We are currently just organizing so that we are ready to go once the OK is given to start practicing again,” Plumlee said.
In their Facebook from last week, PGF said, “Your Porterville Hot Shots directors are currently drafting procedures that will allow the program to begin moving forward with the 2020 travel softball season. We are in contact with city, county, and state officials, as well as USA Softball officials, to gain clarity on what is acceptable under our current phase of California's Pandemic Resilience Roadmap. We expect to have safety (protocols) in place next week and would like to begin contacting prospective players.”
They also noted that if players were interested in playing for one of their two 10U teams, their 14/16U team or their 16U team, they should contact the coaches for those teams.
The Facebook post finished off saying, “The current pandemic has certainly disrupted our 2020 and we look forward to being able to add some normalcy back to the lives of our youth. Please stay tuned while we finalize procedures that will satisfy government guidelines and maintain safety protocol. We hope to see everyone at Hayes soon!”
On May 26, PGF also announced on Facebook they would begin cancelling their league softball season and issuing partial refunds and medals on June 12, 13, 17 and 20.
On Sunday evening, Porterville Little League (PLL) announced on its Facebook page that it would be canceling the 2020 season.
“Parents and community of Porterville Little League, we are saddened to inform you all that the little league board is forced to cancel our 2020 little league season,” PLL’s post read. “This entire pre-season has been very difficult to deal with. There are many preparations, plans, purchases, and decisions that have to be made far ahead of any season.
“The board is currently working through decisions on a partial reimbursement, credit or donation program. The board will be in contact with each and every player/parent on how we could take care of this. Please do not reach out to us for this planning, we will contact you on how you could receive this reimbursement.
Thank you all so much for your patience through this entire process. Nobody could plan for these tragic circumstances.”