Plaaaaaay ball!

—Governor opens baseball, softball high school sports
HOW-WINN - Play ball! Those are the words athletes and fans have been waiting for! 
Spring sports never even got off the starting line as they were initially postponed and then cancelled the same day classes and extra curricular activities were cancelled for the school year on April 17, due to coronavirus precautions.
Lovers of high school sports were relieved to hear Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announce on May 20 that summer athletic seasons could be conducted for high school baseball and softball following the two-month activities suspension due to COVID-19.
The announcement approved the reopening of school facilities and the start of practices for Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa High School Athletic Association sanctioned summer sports starting on Monday, June 1. 
Per the Iowa Department of Education, first contests may occur as early as Monday, June 15, and fans will be permitted at games.
Crestwood High School coach Gary Steffen didn’t have all the answers right after the announcement, noting that some things still need to be discussed, but he’s optimistic. He also has varying emotions about the opening of baseball this summer.
“I’m excited to have the chance to have some sort of season when we were expecting nothing. But I’m also nervous about playing the game and having fun but keeping the players safe.
“It gives you a feeling of how normal fall sports will look like. It’s a good stepping stone toward fall sports.”
In regards to the athletes, Steffen said they have been on their own for training. Starting June 1, though, practice will begin.
Girls softball coach Doug Sickles stated, “I’m really excited for softball to begin . . . especially for the seniors. They have put in so much time. I believe having softball will help bring some closure to their senior year.
Just like coach Steffen, Sickles is hoping this is one of the first steps back to normalcy. 
“Obviously there will be some apprehension but I know, as a program, we will do everything to keep the players and fans safe.”
The IGHSAU Board of Directors and IHSAA Board of Control met after the announcement and both groups voted to approve resuming the 2020 summer seasons under Iowa Department of Education guidelines.
Member schools are to follow reopening guidance entitled “Summer Sports” and “Use of School Facilities” as supplied by the Iowa Department of Education, with recommendations based on conversations with the IGHSAU, IHSAA, Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor’s office. 
“The IHSAA thanks Dr. Lebo, Governor Reynolds, Dr. Pedati, the IDPH and all who have worked diligently to develop these guidelines to help us conduct a baseball season for the young people in Iowa,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said.
“We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe. This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”
The original first practice dates were May 4 for softball and May 18 for baseball.
“The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said. “We are grateful for their leadership and support.
“We know the games will have different circumstances, and we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
The IGHSAU and IHSAA plan to issue further sport-specific guidance and FAQ lists early next week.
Both organizations currently plan to conduct their state tournaments at their previously announced venues, with IGHSAU softball at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge and IHSAA baseball at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Per guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, coach-athlete contact for all in-person, out-of-season sports is suspended until July 1.

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