COVID-19 disrupts schedules for local youth baseball, softball leagues

A youth baseball diamond at Mountlake Terrace’s Forest Crest Playfield sits vacant one afternoon this week when youth would normally have been practicing with their MTYAA teams; MTYAA baseball operations have been put on hold until at least March 28 due to concerns over COVID-19. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)

While area recreation fields in mid-March would normally include the sights and sounds of youth playing organized baseball and softball, this year is different — thanks to COVID-19.

Two local youth organizations acknowledge that the COVID-19 outbreak has affected their spring schedules, but both hope to get their players back on baseball and softball diamonds soon.

The Mountlake Terrace Youth Athletic Association (MTYAA) and the Pacific Little League (PLL) have run youth baseball programs in South Snohomish County for decades. And while the 2020 season has been delayed, both are still planning on yelling “play ball” as soon as possible.

For MTYAA, a delay in the start of this year may not be too painful, said the group’s President James Delaney.

Regarding its COVID-19 response, MTYAA is following the directives of the national organization it is affiliated with — PONY Baseball and Softball — which has advised to put a hold on all practices until March 28 and suspend games until April 12. 

“Technically we wouldn’t have started actually playing games till the week of April 12,” Delaney said. “So we are still hopeful for that.”

The most recent instructions sent out by PONY leadership to local programs were given on March 13, three days before Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee ordered a ban on events of 50 persons or more in the state. Delaney expects further instructions from PONY will be coming soon.

“We are monitoring everything and trying to stay inline with PONY Baseball,” Delaney said.

The PONY-directed suspension of activities did cause MTYAA to cancel its jamboree and team picture-taking session that was scheduled for March 28.

Over at Pacific Little League, which includes players from Edmonds and Lynnwood, an announced delay in 2020 operations will be more disruptive. The PLL operates under the direction of Little League International, which has told its 6,500 programs nationwide to push back their operations until May 11.

“We plan to revise and publish our season schedule based on that new guideline in the next few days,” said PLL President Rhienn Davis.

PLL games were to have started on May 2; team photos and Pitch, Hit & Run competitions were to have taken place on May 9.

The PLL season schedule  — and the schedules of all Little League programs in the country — will depend on any possible changes made to when the summer-ending Little League World Series and All-Star Tournaments will take place.

“We still plan to get the kids out playing as soon as it’s safe to do so,” Davis added.

In addition to the delay in the start to their season, PLL has also suffered a couple other setbacks resulting from COVID-19 concerns. MOD Pizza of Lynnwood was to have hosted a fundraiser for the organization on March 23 — and that has been cancelled. Also, the organization was offering discounted group tickets to University of Washington Husky baseball games, but the Huskies have announced that all spring sports at the university, under a directive of the NCAA, have been canceled.

— By Doug Petrowski

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