MOUNT VERNON — The Centerburg softball team got a chance to get on the field as a team Wednesday night. The Trojans traveled to Mount Vernon for a scrimmage of sorts.
Mount Vernon coach Ryan Pentz organized a summer league of sorts for high school teams in the area.
“It’s really about getting the kids reps,” Centerburg coach Tim Rioux said. “I told them to go out and have fun. For us, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about getting reps and having fun.”
Centerburg, Danville, Loudonville, Northmor, Cardington and Warsaw River View are participating along with the Yellow Jackets, who are fielding two teams.
“We had 36 girls reach out to me about wanting to play summer games,” Pentz said. “So, what I did was took all the upper classmen and split them up between two teams and then added all of the underclassmen to those two teams, which is giving all 36 girls an opportunity to play.”
The league was formed before low- and non-contact sports, which include softball, were opened back up by Governor Mike DeWine’s office May 26 as a way for area players to compete.
“It started off as me and Coach (Charlie) Duncan from Danville just talking,” Pentz said. “We didn’t think travel softball was going to happen this year. A month and a half, two months ago, I don’t think anybody thought it was going to happen. We saw a vision that high school softball could happen with smaller crowds (and) only playing one or two (times) per week.
“We reached out to other schools and a lot of them were on board. The (athletic directors) were supportive. There’s no transportation, the kids are getting themselves here. There’s nothing coming out of the athletic budget.”
The only rules that are being enforced are coronavirus-related. Any individual on the field went through a prescreening questionnaire and names were taken, so if there’s a positive test, it can be traced back.
Spectators are asked to distance themselves.
The league is set up for one or two doubleheaders per week, usually on Tuesday’s with some games scheduled for Wednesday’s. Mount Vernon’s “Black” team played Northmor at home and its “Orange” team traveled to Cardington on Tuesday.
Centerburg, a late arrival to the league, opened at Mount Vernon against its “Orange” team Wednesday.
“During the school year, there’s so much on everybody to win,” Rioux said. “I think this is a great opportunity for the kids to come out and not have any pressure. Have fun and just play.”
There are umpires, but rules are lax. Lineups are made on the fly and Rioux and Pentz didn’t bother keeping a book.
“I’m not keeping score … I’m not keeping a book. It was enough for me to just fill out a lineup card,” Rioux quipped. “It’s really low-key — free substitutions. It’s really more of a learning experience for the kids — at least in my opinion.”
“I can guarantee you those girls are (keeping score),” Pentz joked.
The league is so lax that 2020 seniors are allowed to participate. Centerburg had seven seniors on its roster this spring, but not all of them are playing in the league.
Mount Vernon’s three 2020 seniors are not participating.
“We kind of felt like we finalized everything and I didn’t want to open up that wound,” Pentz said. “I feel god-awful for our 2020 seniors. They know that. But at the same time, I thought was a good way to look at next season and start looking forward.”
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