Ottumwa Little Leaguers prepare for state

Tucker Long makes a catch in front of the mound during practice with the Ottumwa Little League 12-year-old All Star team at the Midwest diamond in Ottumwa last summer.

OTTUMWA — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moved Tuesday to lift restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, opening the door for fans to return to the stands at race tracks across the state, and permitted practices and competitions for youth sports such as baseball and softball effective as of June 1.

Under an emergency proclamation, the governor declared that casinos, outdoor amphitheaters, amusement parks, bowling alleys, arcades, race tracks, skating rinks and outdoor playgrounds can also reopen. Events such as parades, festivals and conventions can resume if public health measures are implemented, including requiring participants to practice social distancing.

“For our state, recovery means striking a balance between getting life and business back to normal while continuing to manage the virus activity,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “Our recovery is contingent upon our ability to protect both the lives and livelihoods of Iowans. We can’t prioritize one over the other.”

The loosening of restrictions allows opportunities for fans return to the grandstands at area race tracks, including the Southern Iowa Speedway which opened its season last Wednesday without fans.

Knoxville Raceway, meanwhile, announced on Wednesday the track’s official season opener will be held on June 6 with tickets available for all spectators to purchase.

All guests must follow all social distancing guidelines throughout practice nights at Knoxville and at all race nights. Per state restrictions, Knoxville Raceway will be be operating at 50 percent capacity in the grandstands. Fans will also have to comply with social distancing at all times while on track property.

Additional sanitizer and hand washing stations have been added under the grandstands and in the infield at Knoxville. Masks are highly recommended for all spectators. Plexi glass dividers have been installed at all points of purchase. High-contact areas will be continuously cleaned throughout race nights.

Ottumwa Little League, meanwhile, has already made plans to prepare for the upcoming baseball season by re-opening our online sign-ups this week.

There will also be an in-person sign-up that will be held on May 30 at National Fields located behind the Bridge View Center from 9 a.m. until noon.

Parents that are requesting a refund for the season can also receive refunds at the in-person sign-up session. This will be our only in-person sign-up before we teams are selected.

Ottumwa Little League will be meeting with managers and coaches early next week to select teams and practice schedules. The goal is to start practices the week of June 1.

“Once we get our rosters finalized, we will begin the process of scheduling games,” Ottumwa Little League president Sam Long said. “We’re asking parents to please be patient as the board and volunteers of Ottumwa Little League work to give their children the best baseball experience that we can in these uncertain times.”

There will also be a return-to-play plan established with with Ottumwa Little League’s COVID-19 precautions.

Those precautions can be viewed at www.ottumwalittleleague.org.

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