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As county is about to go green, Williamsport Area Little League set to get fields, league prepared

The baselines still need to be put in at the fields at Brandon Park for Williamsport Area Little League. There’s also some weeds needing to be pulled.

Oh, don’t forget the soil the league needs brought in. There’s also the stone needed for the warning tracks and pedestrian area.

There’s quite a to-do list for Williamsport Area Little League and president Ron Diemer before the season can begin.

Under Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders, Lycoming County will go under his green phase Friday. And while the green phase allows organized sports to be played, there’s a lot to accomplish before WALL can let the kids play.

“We have to make sure we’re complying with all the requirements,” Diemer said. “Which will include signage (stating to) wash your hands regularly, things of that nature.”

Diemer noted WALL did have a work day last week and the league got a lot done, but there’s still things to finish.

Little League International’s guidelines state no games can be played at any league until two weeks of practices are completed. For WALL and every other league which falls into a green phase county, that means games cannot start until at least June 20. WALL is planning on potentially having its first game June 22.

Scheduling is one thing the league is still trying to finish. Diemer said a few parents and families asked for refunds, which means some teams may have to alter rosters.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting everything on hold since mid-March, Diemer isn’t too stressed about scheduling at this point since every league is in same position. Williamsport plays interleague games with other area leagues, including Loyalsock, so Diemer is hoping to figure out interleague scheduling soon.

“We’re hoping that the two main leagues that we interleague with will be in the same boat,” Diemer said. “We can take that schedule and be like games that would start on May whatever, now it starts in June and can probably run into August.”

Once the governor declared last week Lycoming County would be turning green Friday, Diemer instantly started talking to WALL board members, district administrators and others to see what they can start doing. Prior to Friday, the district was going to have a meeting with all of the District 12 league presidents so everyone was on the same page.

Having the leagues working together will allow smaller leagues with minimal players or teams to have those players join other leagues for the summer.

“Say for example ABC Little League might only have 15 players they could come up with, well WALL is holding a season, if your guys want to come from ABC in northern Lycoming County, you can come and join your players into ours,” Diemer said. “That’s one of rules that Little League allowed. I’m sure once presidents get together, we got a lot to figure out on that.”

Little League’s put forth a number of guidelines to allow leagues to begin play. Among them is enforcing social distancing in the dugouts. It also wants to limit the amount of shared equipment and, if it is shared, it’s to be sanitized. But a concerning rule for local leagues is they’re prohibited from selling concessions.

“That’s going to be a big blow. I know our league, and I imagine most, that’s how we bring in revenue throughout the year to pay for lights for night games and things of that nature,” Diemer said. “Pay for the field up-keeps, uniforms and equipment. We’re going to have to buy baseballs. That definitely will put a hinder on things.”

In his first year as WALL president, he’s experiencing a season unlike any other with no blueprint for how to handle it. But he’s optimistic a season under these both Little League and government guidelines can be played safely.

“There’s gonna be hiccups and issues, there’s way too many variables. Look, we’re going to be expected to try to keep 8- and 9-year-old kids six feet apart on a bench during a baseball game. It’s not going to be an easy thing to do,” Diemer said. “I think it isn’t going to be as difficult because there’s been this precursor of ‘this is how things kind of are,’ so kids will better understand.

“We’ll run into hiccups. We’ll run into times where things won’t work out as planned and we need a backup plan.”

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