A long awaited and hoped-for announcement was made Wednesday, as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa High Schools were free to begin practices for both baseball and softball June 1, albeit under fairly strict guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 seasons for each sport can begin June 15. No activities of any kind for sports or activities other than baseball and softball are permitted until July 1.
Perry will be looking for any sign of progress after an 0-24 baseball season last summer, with new head coach Aaron Lyons ready to start a rebuilding process. The Jayette softball team was young and largely inexperienced in finishing 5-24, with hopes high for steady improvement this summer under head coach Tina Lutterman.
Woodward-Granger will have to be considered a serious state tourney threat in hardball. The Hawks were 23-8 last year, falling in the district final. Head coach Eric Evans will have 12 veteran seniors in the dugout, will an already-robust pitching staff ready to take the next step.
Jessica Wyant’s Hawk girls began 0-9 before she took the head role. The team was 7-22 afterward to finish 7-31, but return almost the entire team, a promising sign.
Brian Bahrenfuss will have to replace some key figures for the Panorama baseball team. The Panthers more than doubled their win total from 2018 by finishing 15-14 in 2019 and doubtless will be aiming to maintain that level, if not improve upon it.
The Panther softball team was 11-21 and loses some veteran players, but head coach Ryan Nail should have plenty of talent on hand as Panorama seeks to continue their steady rise.
The Raccoon River Conference, of which Perry is a member, is expected to hold a meeting of all Athletic Directors today. The West Central Conference AD’s had met Wednesday, then met again after the restrictions were lifted. Both leagues are expected to meet May 27, following the issuance of final guidelines by the IHSAA and IGHSAU on Tuesday.
Whether to play a conference-only schedule or simply begin play with the schedules already in place will be among the several issues decided at that time.
The IHSAA and IGHSAU issued the following release Wednesday:
“Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that summer athletic seasons may be conducted for high school baseball and softball following a two-month activities suspension due to COVID-19.
The announcement approved the reopening of school facilities and the start of practices for Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa High School Athletic Association sanctioned summer sports starting on Monday, June 1. Per the Iowa Department of Education, first contests may occur as early as Monday, June 15 and fans will be permitted at games.
Member schools are to follow reopening guidance entitled “Summer Sports” and “Use of School Facilities” as supplied by the Iowa Department of Education, with recommendations based on conversations with the IGHSAU, IHSAA, Iowa Department of Public Health, and the governor’s office. Dr. Ann Lebo, executive director of the Iowa Department of Education and member of the IHSAA Board of Control, is expected to join Gov. Reynolds at the daily briefing on Thursday.
“The IHSAA thanks Dr. Lebo, Governor Reynolds, Dr. Pedati, the IDPH and all who have worked diligently to develop these guidelines to help us conduct a baseball season for the young people in Iowa,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said.
“We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe. This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”
Spring sports seasons never began and were ultimately canceled on April 17 following the cancellation of in-person K-12 schooling for Iowa’s 2019-20 academic year.
The original first practice date was May 4 for baseball and softball. .
“The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said. “We are grateful for their leadership and support.
“We know the games will have different circumstances and that we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
The IGHSAU and IHSAA plan to issue further sport-specific guidance and FAQ lists early next week.
Both organizations currently plan to conduct their state tournaments at their previously announced venues, with IGHSAU softball at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge and IHSAA baseball at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Per guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, coach-athlete contact for all in-person, out-of-season sports is suspended until July 1.”
ThePerryNews.com will once again serve as the unofficial home page of prep sports for Perry, W-G and Panorama, providing season previews and coverage of every contest.