Prep Softball

Northwest Iowa team is first to suspend softball season due to coronavirus

Still, after one week, Jean Berger said, 'I think we're looking pretty good overall'

Benton Community's Alyse Harvey (10) reaches out to make a catch as Williamsburg's Aubray Walters (11) slides to second
Benton Community’s Alyse Harvey (10) reaches out to make a catch as Williamsburg’s Aubray Walters (11) slides to second base during their game at Williamsburg on June 15. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Even over the phone, you could almost hear Jean Berger knocking on wood.

“I hate to jinx it,” the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union executive director said Monday morning. “But after one week, I think we’re looking pretty good overall.”

One high school softball team — Marcus MMCRU, in northwest Iowa — is nearly halfway through a 14-day quarantine due to one player’s positive test of the coronavirus. The Royals will be able to return to action June 30.

As of Monday, five baseball teams are on hold.

MMCRU is not the only softball squad under impact, though. Berger said a player from Central Lyon — which shares a team with George-Little Rock — was exposed.

“George-Little Rock brought up some kids and is playing on its own right now. The Central Lyon kids are done for now, but they’ll come back,” Berger said.

A Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader between Cedar Falls and Waterloo West was postponed last week after the father of a player tested positive. The player tested negative for the virus, so the twinbill will be rescheduled.

Berger made the rounds to a few games during the first week of the season, which started June 15.

“The fans aren’t always doing a great job of social distancing,” she said. “Some of the changes have been good, though. The rule in which foul balls come from the dugout seems to speed the game, and we might keep that one permanently.”

Because of COVID-19, Berger said the Union is taking a serious look at a format change for the state tournament. It’s highly possible that four fields will be in play simultaneously, throughout the quarterfinals and semifinals, in an effort to keep fans spread out.

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“I’m not sure, with 13,000 people in attendance over five days, that was can properly social distance over two diamonds,” said Berger, who also said it is possible that consolation games, other than third-place games, could be dropped.

The softball postseason is scheduled to begin July 13.

“We’re going to be looking closely at the Fourth of July,” Berger said. “Are teams going to keep their circle tight and lower the risk of exposure?”

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

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