It’s a day that many across the area had been waiting for. Monday marked opening day of the 2020 season for Pike County Youth Sports baseball and softball leagues. League play was put on hold for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Gov. Tate Reeves gave the green light for youth sports to commence beginning June 1, but a list of guidelines must be followed in order to ensure safety for the players, coaches, officials and fans in attendance.
Now that the season has finally come to fruition, many are elated for its return.
“It’s fun to be back on the field and be able to hit the ball and just play with all of the girls on my softball team,” said Anna Bryant, who plays on a 10-an-dunder team. “I missed them a lot.”
Two of those teammates share those same feelings, adding that they have been doing their best to stay in shape and practice safely at home during the pandemic.
“We’ve been practicing every weekend and hitting some at the house,” said Carlyle Carruth.
“I went to Brookhaven and hit some during quarantine,” teammate Brooklyn Wagner added.
The opening to the season was also special for coaches who have had their work cut out for them over the past two weeks preparing their respective teams to play in a condensed season.
“We are super excited to be back, we really are,” said Missy Carruth, who coaches a 10U softball team. “It is always fun to get together for the girls and the parents and the fans and the coaches. We are ready to compete and to get the opportunity to do this. We are super thankful.”
Another individual who was excited for the return was Lawrence Weems, who coaches a 7 and 8-year-old boys baseball team.
“It feels great,” he said. “The coaches have been ready, the kids have been ready. We started practice two weeks ago to lead up to this day.”
Weems adds that by getting the chance to play and following the guidelines handed down from Reeves, he feels like the league is possibly setting an example for other sports leagues that may want to play their respective seasons in the near future.
“The kids have been fine, the practices have been different. We haven’t been using the dugout,” he said. “They all understand what it means not to grab somebody else’s helmet, somebody else’s bat. But we are hoping that other leagues are looking at us.”
But in addition to players and coaches following guidelines, fans in attendance must do the same.
Judy Temple, who was in attendance to watch her granddaughter, Mattea Delaney, play in the 10U softball league, said that it is key for everyone to follow suit so that things go smoothly.
“You just have to follow the rules, that is how it is in this day and time,” she said.
Also in attendance to watch her granddaughter Carlyle play was Lynda Carruth.
And while watching her grandkids play sports is nothing new for her, the virus delaying the season threw her schedule off a bit.
“I’ve got 13 grandkids and for years I have watched all of their sports from basketball to baseball to football and all of a sudden there was an abrupt stop. But I am getting to enjoy it again,” she said. “Pretty much what I look forward to is watching my grandchildren play.”
And, overall, she is glad to get back even though guidelines have been put in place.
“I’m just distancing and we are out in the open air and we have to get back to some type of normalcy,”she said.
Another individual who is very grateful to have youth sports back is Pike County Youth Sports President Mike Boggs.
“The biggest thing I see is the community wanting to get out and abiding by the rules that the government has set forth,” he said. “The kids, they are running around throwing balls with smiles on their faces and of course everything is a little different but we are just happy to see the kids back out at the park getting back to some type of normalcy.”