Although doors to restaurants and retail stores reopened on Monday, the locks remain on the ball fields at Dalton Threadgill Little League Park in Destin.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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“As of Tuesday, May 5th, Dalton Threadgill Park is open to little league coaches and players with scheduled practices only,” said the city of Destin’s Public Information Officer Catherine Card in an email. “Maintaining groups of no more than 10 people and social distancing rules still need to be followed. Moving beyond opening for individual team practices will require us advancing to a higher level of the Governor’s plan.”
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The Destin Little League, which boast 32 teams made up of more than 300 youth, celebrated their opening day on March 7 in their new uniforms. The young players only got to suit up for one week of play before spring break and then the coronavirus swept in, messing up all athletic schedules.
At first the Destin Little League Association decided to follow suit with what the schools were doing. But since then, the fields have been locked and school has not resumed in the classroom.
Right now the Destin league is hoping to organize a shortened fall season to maybe start in mid-August and play through September.
“The idea would be to just play the same teams we drafted for the spring,” said Destin Little League president Howard Wortman.
The teams would have the same sponsors and divisions and would play six games with playoffs and a championship game.
Because of COVID-19 and the delay in ball seasons there will be no district or sectional tournaments this year for the youth, Wortman said.
Last year, Destin captured two district titles, one for Machine Pitch Baseball and the other for Machine Pitch Softball.
“Right now I think most coaches and parents are just anxious to play,” Wortman said, noting he thinks they will have a good turnout in the fall.
Coach Brandon Patzig is on board.
“I absolutely love it,” said Patzig, who coached the girls to that district title last year. “As a coach I feel taking that break off to play other sports is important, but a lot of kids don’t, so let’s give them a place to learn more about the game.”
But for now, the fall season all hinges on the city of Destin and when they deem it safe for ball games.