Friday, June 5, 2020

Windham Little League season nearing, but will be very different this year

Windham Little League’s MPM Sealcoating
 team for 12-year-old includes, from left,
 Coach Mike Butterfield, Mason Butterfield, Noah Adams,
 Elias Jauregui, Nick Davenport, Aiden Tweedie, Ethan Clapp,
Davis Jordan, and Coach Caleb Davenport.
By Matt Pascarella

With all sports being canceled because of Covid-19, athletic competition seemed bleak. Little League International made the decision in April to cancel its World Series and regional tournaments.
However, they gave the okay for local leagues to resume play, provided they follow proper guidelines to keep everyone safe. Windham Little League has been working hard to figure out how to make the season happen in these challenging times. Their number one priority is safety. And they’ve established guidelines to allow proper protection during the season.
They began practice on June 1 and games will begin around mid-June. The plan is to play two to three games a week. will start closer to the beginning of July. They both will follow Little League International’s guidelines for return to safe play.
The first- and third-base lines will be only for players. There will be marked spots six feet apart up and down the baselines. The dugout will be used for the on-deck batters. This will allow one on-deck batter and one other batter to be in the traditional dugout.
Coaches are not required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) unless they are coming in close contact with to a player or umpire. There will still be base coaches, but the coach’s area will be bigger. 
Umpires will call games from behind the pitcher’s mound and if they are within 6 feet of a player will wear a mask.
Cloth face coverings should be worn by players when in close contact areas and in places where recommended social distancing is a challenge, like dugouts. However, players in younger divisions are not required to wear a mask during game play, unless recommended by a parent, guardian or medical professional.
No helmets, bats, gloves or catcher’s gear will be shared between teammates. If equipment of any kind is needed, they can be coordinated and signed out with the Windham Little League Equipment Manager.
Windham Little League will be using the hill at Lowell, above the field, for extra parking to keep people socially distant.
There will be designated fan spots behind the outfield fence and spectator attendance will be limited to 100 people. 50 on the players/coach’s part of the field and 50 on the spectator part of the field.
Spectators should use social distancing practices and wear a face mask; avoiding direct contact with individuals not from their household.
Water will not be provided and sunflowers seeds are prohibited. There will be no concession offered.
Hand sanitizer will be available; it is required for players as they enter the facility and coming on and off the field. All baseball and softballs will be sterilized frequently.
Dugouts, bathrooms and the top of the fence rail surrounding the field will be cleaned after every game.
There are five Majors, three Minors and four AA baseball teams along with three Majors and two Minors softball teams participating this season. The schedule is still being finalized. 
A huge reason we pushed for the season was so the 12-year-olds could play and earn their wooden bat,” said Mike Butterfield, vice president of the Minors baseball division. The bats are given as a memento during the last little league game to each 12-year-old as they age out of the program.
Representatives of Windham Little League say that they appreciate public cooperation while they figure out these important details and look forward to getting the kids back on the field. More information to follow. <

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