Youth baseball is underway in Sedalia.
The 2020 Sedalia Competitive Baseball League opened play for 31 teams in three age divisions Tuesday at Centennial Park.
Fans were roped off from bleachers behind the plate and settled along the baselines outside dugouts. Teams did not share baseballs and signs were posted requesting spectators maintain 6 feet of distance.
Parents said they were excited that the youth league, which was delayed by more than a month, finally scheduled its first pitch. For fans and players alike, youth ball is the only game in town. Locally, American Legion, the MINK League and MSHSAA canceled its 2020 respective baseball campaigns.
After a long delay in the usual summer schedule, Paul McCarty said he was eager for his son, Preston, to take the field.
“He wanted to play, but, of course, [COVID-19] messed everything up,” Paul said. “We were ready to play ball.”
Games are scheduled to begin 5:15 p.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday through July 8. Coaches were sent documents outlining precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, doubleheaders were scheduled to condense the season length.
Whitney Morris, whose son Malla-Ki Morris, homered during a Sedalia Bandits win, said they were pleased to commence the season, even with the precautions.
“Honestly it really doesn’t bother me, because we’re all together anyways,” Whitney said. “We just wanted to play.”
Andy Burkhart, who manages the 14U Windsor Greys, said each team is responsible for enforcing the rules among their players, coaches and fans.
“Everybody’s super cautious,” Burkhart said. “But as you can see, everybody, they want to get on with life. We’re probably the test subjects for what’s going to happen.”
Burkhart stressed personal responsibility in following the guidelines, and said there has been a learning curve to enforcing the rules.
“It’s tough, because everybody’s learning to do this,” he said. “You could walk around and you’re going to see, people are too close together, and you have to remind them.”
Dropping a pair of games to two Sedalia-based teams, Burkhart added that most teams are grateful for the opportunity.
“Every kid here is ecstatic that they get to play,” Burkhart said. “Because at one point, there was no season. Anywhere.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.