Prep baseball: What will be the encore?

Pekin High School baseball coach Curtis Reighard looks out to the field from the dugout before the Panthers’ Class 1A state quarterfinal game against Mason City Newman at Principal Park in Des Moines last July.

PEKIN — The Pekin baseball season is set to resume this week after members of the team tested negative for COVID-19.

Brent Blakely, Pekin’s athletic and activities director, made the official statement after consulting with county health officials on Monday morning. The team had posted on Sunday that test results for members of the team came back negative, allowing for the Panthers to continue with the remainder of the baseball season.

We had multiple exposures to COVID-19 last week with in our baseball program. Upon receiving this information we immediately followed the protocols put forth by the state and county health organizations,” Blakely said on Monday. “All parties involved have been tested and received negative results. At this time we have received clearance to play our baseball schedule out.”

Blakely confirmed on Friday a student athlete came forward to let the school know they had been in contact with somebody that was found to have tested positive for COVID-19. No practice or games have be held by the Pekin baseball team since last Thursday night’s 9-7 win in eight innings over Mediapolis, including a cancellation of a home game with Cardinal scheduled for this past Friday.

Getting the word to move forward with the season on Monday allowed Pekin to make the trip to Davis County Monday to wrap up the regular season. The Panthers are back on track to open Class 1A district tournament play on Saturday against BGM in Montezuma at 4:30 p.m.

“Our number one priority is the safety of our athletes and our spectators,” Blakely said. “We thank everyone for being patient as we were sure to follow all the mandated guidelines put forth by the county health department. Moving forward the high school baseball team will carry on their schedule as posted.”

Pekin clinched a share of the Southeast Iowa Superconference north division title with Thursday’s win over Mediapolis, improving to 7-2 overall this season with a 7-1 conference record. The Panthers are hoping to have a chance to make a run at a second straight state baseball tournament appearance after making a dramatic run to the program’s first state tournament last summer.

Pekin is one of many schools across the state that has had to deal with the potential exposure to COVID-19. As of this weekend, 45 total baseball and softball teams across the state have had to deal with possible exposure to the coronavirus.

“It’s a growing problem and concern. I know there’s other schools in our conference that are having to deal with it,” Blakely said. “We’re all working together as it comes to our own door step to try and deal with it and get through it.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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