Ordinarily the midway point of June would mean Softball Napanee’s Express teams would be in full swing, traveling across Ontario and beyond for tournaments while getting set to host a few of their own.
But of course, nothing about 2020 has been ordinary.
Instead diamonds across the country remain empty, still awaiting the go ahead from the government to allow umpires to shout ‘play ball!’
“Softball Napanee is working closely with the provincial softball organizations, the PWSA (Provincial Women’s Softball Association) and OASA (Ontario Amateur Softball Association),” said Softball Napanee’s Stephen Paul. “It’s developing return to play guidelines with health and safety and how possibly softball could start up again and be safe for the athletes and those that are spectators and their families.”
At the start of the year, Softball Napanee was scheduled to host an OASA U19 boys elimination tournament July 3-5 and U19 PWSA Tier 1 Grand Championship tournament July 24-26. They also had plans to host U16, U14, U12 and U10 boys tournaments throughout the month of June. Those have since been cancelled, as have all national championships.
“We’re still hopeful that we’ll have the ability to be on the ball field, but our season is going to look very different,” said Paul. “It’ll be locally based. We are putting plans together now to develop a local schedule where Softball Napanee teams would actually play Softball Napanee teams and allow our athletes to get back on the field and play at a high caliber and develop the skills they need as they look ahead to what the future will be when there will be national championships.”
Prior to any COVID-19 outbreak, the Express were gearing up to build off an extremely successful 2019 campaign at pretty well every age level along with several of their own players representing the country.
“It’s extremely disappointing and for any sport or any activity to lose a year is difficult,” said Paul. “Certainly we had a great season last year and had high expectations this year but our job now is to adapt and hopefully provide an opportunity to make ball happen.”