Eight-year-old Pfeifer Doolittle was worried he would not get a chance to play baseball with his friends this season, but on Monday night he was more than delighted to put on his uniform and play his first game for the Braves at the Delta Sportsplex.
“I am very surprised that we are playing, but I am very happy,” Pfeifer said. “My goal this year is to score a bunch of runs, and maybe even hit one over the fence. I am going to have a great year.”
Pfeifer was just one of a number of local youngsters who played in their first games of the season at the Delta Sportsplex Monday. The league, which includes softball and T-ball, plans on playing games throughout the month of June.
While many aspects of Monday appeared similar to seasons past, there were many subtle differences being observed due to safety concerns of the coronoavirus pandemic. For example, instead of shaking hands after the game, players from different teams bumped elbows instead. Players also were not tightly packed into dugouts, with some parents choosing to keep their children behind the fence instead.
Beth Giachelli, the coordinator of the SportsPlex, said the decision to begin the season was made with safety in mind.
“Playing this summer means so much to our children,” she said.
Youngsters were not the only ones happy to return to the field, however.
Calvin Knight has been umpiring youth baseball games for 32 years. This season, as the head of the umpires, he is in charge of monitoring that all games at the Sportsplex are played under proper health guidelines.
“Just look at the kids and look at how much fun they are having,” Knight said. “This is all about them and allowing them to enjoy being children.”
Brayden Ashmore, another eight-year-old who plays for the Braves, said he is so thankful to be able to play baseball this season.
“My favorite part of baseball is catching it,” Brayden. “It is a lot of fun because you have to watch it closely to see where it is going to go.”