There will be no District 13 Little League tournaments this year.
District 13 chairman Greg Brouse made the announcement in an email after a meeting on Friday night with the presidents of the Little Leagues that comprise District 13 (Juniata County, Sunbury/Northumberland, Selinsgrove, Lewisburg, Danville, Warrior Run, Milton, Berwick, Bloomsburg, Millville and South Columbia Little Leagues).
However, there is still a chance that Valley Little Leagues will be able to play a regular season this summer — if the state moves the local counties to green, the final phase in Governor Tom Wolf’s three-phase re-opening plan.
Both Danville Little League president Matt Hickey and Selinsgrove Little League president Toby Gearhart are hopeful that a regular season can take place.
“As far as regular-season play, we want to do anything we can to give these kids a chance to play, especially kids who would be aging out,” Hickey said. “If we can get a season in before football starts, that’s the ultimate goal.”
That is one thing that Brouse emphasized at the meeting on Friday — that the international Little League wanted at least a regular season for the kids.
Gearhart and the Selinsgrove Little League came up with a plan feel this regular season, but Gearhart said they need to know by May 23 when Snyder County will move to green.
“We don’t want to interfere with fall sports, so we came up with end date, and worked our way backward,” Gearhart said. “We have to consider practice time, getting pitchers ready, plus we still had some work to do on the fields (before the season could start).”
The Selinsgrove Little League decided it needed its season to be done on Aug. 8 — currently two days before the start of high school football heat acclimatization and nine days before the start of fall practice (Aug. 17). The Little League would like to have six-week season, according to a letter sent to the Little League parents, meaning the season needs to start at the end of June.
“We have to be worried about pitcher arms and the length of time the kids have been sitting,” Gearhart said, noting they would need three to four weeks of practice before starting the season, plus time to finish working on the fields and to survey parents to see if they are still willing to volunteer.
One plus for the Selinsgrove Little Leaguers is that the league has an indoor practice facility, so the players from age 9 and up were able to do a little baseball work in February before the coronavirus shutdown.
Hickey said that every baseball division in Danville Little League has enough teams to play a season. The prospects for softball are not quite as good, as usually the softball teams play teams from other Little Leagues.
“Our softball divisions do rely on interleague play,” Hickey said. “We have one minor division team, that could split into two, and we have two major division teams that could play each other.”
Hickey said he was hopeful that there would be Little League baseball and softball played in Danville this summer.
“We have our fingers crossed,” Hickey said. “It is our intention to give the kids some kind of season.”
The Selinsgrove Little League also has a contingency plan in case they aren’t able to play a regular season. In the letter sent to parents, the board said it will meet again as May 23 approaches to determine what to do.
“Please know that we are not giving up on baseball for the summer. We are trying to find ways to play baseball at some point. In the event of a season cancellation, the board has already begun discussions to organize “Sandlot” events where kids can gather and play baseball once the area is cleared for gatherings of that nature,” the letter states.
Daily Item sports editor Kurt Ritzman contributed to this report.