District 18 Little League preparing for a possible baseball season
There's no doubt about it, the spring and summer are not the same without baseball being played.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent state restrictions in place for everyone's safety and health, baseball fields are empty this spring.
As those restrictions begin to loosen up across the state District 18 Little League in Ocean County is preparing for the possibility of playing out a season at some-point this year should the state permit recreation.
Frank Trenkle who is the District 18 Administrator said their currently looking at starting practices on July 1, playing a 14-game regular season and then participating in Sectional and State tournaments.
"The State (Little League) has set a July 15 deadline to have some state tournaments so we decided at the District level work around that," Trenkle told WOBM News/Shore Sports Network. "So if we could get on the fields by July 1, we'll have district tournaments sometime in the late summer or early fall for all divisions in our District and then we'll have Section and State tournaments sometime around Labor Day for Little League Baseball, Little League Softball, Senior League Baseball and Senior League Softball."
Trenkle who is also the New Jersey Section 3 Supervisor covering parts of Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer and Middlesex counties has a goal of organizing the state tournament location to be somewhere in Central Jersey.
"We're planning to move those tournaments towards the middle of the state so people from the south part of New Jersey and the north part of New Jersey don't have to drive as far," Trenkle said.
Trenkle adds that five of the last six state little league champions have come out of Ocean County.
"This is our bread and butter here. It's in our blood to play baseball here in Ocean County," Trenkle said.
While they prepare for a possible season on the field, league officials are also discussing what healthy and safety measures including social distancing would be in place.
"There's been some discussions that only 3-kids would be allowed in the dugout at a time, the other players would have to stay outside the fence and be socially distant and we would need to have extra coaches to maintain that social distancing," Trenkle said. "We're hoping that the restrictions get eased a little bit but we have a feeling that the social distancing and sharing of equipment is going to be the big key and we may have disinfectants in the dugout to wipe down the catchers equipment and stuff like that."
If there is a delay in the lifting of restrictions, the league is looking at playing some kind of a season in the fall.
"People would have the regular fall ball instructional leagues but we've also talked about maybe having a separate division for the kids in the spring that really want to play and play more into the tournaments or just run the tournaments, maybe around Halloween," Trenkle said.
Plan-C, is playing next spring but Trenkle is hoping restrictions are eased to a point that allows for a season to be played this year.
"People are hanging on for hope to play and we're trying to be positive about that and get some kind of a season in," Trenkle said. "I hope something gets done soon, I hope we can get back on the field and play."