Prep Softball

Practice huddles a lot wider as high school softball practice begins in Iowa

Distancing, sanitation and caution are the buzzwords in this uncommon season

West Delaware softball coach Tiffany Rave encourages her players during last year's state tournament. The 2020 softball
West Delaware softball coach Tiffany Rave encourages her players during last year’s state tournament. The 2020 softball season began Monday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Tiffany Rave described her softball program as a “high-five, pat-on-the-back” kind of team.

“This will be different,” said Rave, coach at West Delaware High School. “Normally, we bring it in close and tight for our huddles, after every drill.

“Now, we still huddle, but we’re a lot farther apart.”

Softball and baseball practice began Monday, as early as 12:01 a.m. for a few teams — Clear Creek Amana, for one.

It’s the first activity for Iowa high school sports since March 13, the final day of the boys’ state basketball tournament.

Shortly thereafter, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Kim Reynolds closed down schools, which meant the cancellation of spring sports (track and field, soccer, golf and tennis).

Softball and baseball seasons were suspended until the governor’s May 20 announcement, giving the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa High School Athletic Association the go-ahead to start Monday.

Games begin June 15, with the state softball tournament July 27-31 at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.

So we’re back in business. But not back to normal.

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“We made sure that the kids kept their social distance (6 feet),” Anamosa Coach Brad Holub said.

“When we were calling out a drill, they wanted to creep, creep closer so they could hear, so we had to be a little louder than usual.”

Bats and gloves are part of the 2020 season. So are distancing, sanitation and caution.

At Williamsburg, coaches and players arrived at morning practice 20 minutes early. All, according to Coach Adam Berte, had taken their temperature at home beforehand (anything at 100.4 degrees or above means staying at home).

The Raiders practiced twice Monday.

“The first one was pretty much getting everybody together and going over everything,” Berte said. “Everybody put their equipment 6 feet apart from each other. After drills, everybody used their hand sanitizer.

“Our staff will get there early and stay late. We don’t want to put much of a load on the kids.”

The first day of practice coincided with Rave’s 32nd birthday.

“Our kids are pretty knowledgeable with technology, so they showed up with a video and all that,” Rave said.

“Like I told them, this season will be different. We won’t be playing in any (regular-season weekend) tournaments this year, but that’s OK.

“Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad. This morning, we couldn’t have been more excited to get started.”

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Of course, talent will go a long way toward determining success this season. So will preparation and adaptability.

“Whatever teams adjust to the new circumstances are going to be at an advantage,” Berte said.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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