Little League

Baker second baseman Palmer Chandler gets ready to field a ground ball during a 2018 state tournament game as teammate Isaiah Jones, left, looks on from shortstop.

The Baker Little League board of directors, after weeks of weighing their options and hoping to salvage the season, decided Wednesday to cancel the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very, very disappointed,” Board President Jason McClaughry said. “It is certainly not a decision we take lightly, and to ultimately come to this conclusion basically exhausting everything that we could.”

Following direction from Little League International and state officials, the local board’s main objective is to keep the kids, coaches and parents safe. As the state and the county have slowly begun to open up once again, large gatherings like sporting events are still prohibited.

“That is the absolute first consideration in this current situation we find ourselves in,” McClaughry said.

As the local board tried to find a way to salvage the season, other leagues in District 3 canceled their schedules.

That left McClaughry and other board members wondering who Baker all-star teams would be able to play in a district tournament.

“We certainly monitored that,” McClaughry said. “We were looking for interleague play in those other towns, and a part of the decision-making process was to see if there was going to be enough teams for the district tournament.”

Another vital piece in this decision was hearing from the parents around the league.

A couple of weeks ago, the board posted a survey on the Baker Little League Facebook page to gauge how many parents would be comfortable having their kids compete this summer.

“Who would be available to play or would we have enough kids to field teams to have meaningful competitive league,” McClaughry said. “We had a third of all the participants reply to the survey.”

Based on these responses, the board was able to get a better sense of what the season might look like. Although some parents were open to a delayed start if it was permitted, their numbers were going to be too low to build teams.

“One of the board’s primary concerns was having enough players to ensure that we could provide programs at all age levels,” McClaughry said.

Based on all these factors, board members decided that they had no other choice but to cancel this season.

Frustrated as he is about the turn of events, McClaughry is thankful for parents being understanding about the circumstances.

“I don’t think this decision was unexpected based on what our region has been and other towns making similar decisions,” McClaughry said.

Now that the difficult decision has been made, the Baker Little League’s next objective is to give parents an opportunity to decide how they intend to handle the money they spent for the season. Parents have these options:

• They can receive a complete refund

• They can have these fees roll over to the 2021 season

• They can opt for their money to be treated as a donation.

Though the 2020 season won’t happen, this doesn’t mean Baker Little League will stop working, McClaughry said.

Behind the staff of their dedicated volunteers, they intend to re-evaluate financially to make sure the organization is in good standing, and that fields are maintained.

The focus is now on the 2021 season.

“We’ll start planning for operations next year to make sure to have everything in place that we can,” McClaughry said. “The job won’t stop for the board, there is still a lot to do.”

Those parents interested in Baker Little League’s refund policy can go to the League’s Facebook page to fill out the form they posted so they can handle their money accordingly.

The deadline to fill out the form is July 6.

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