Minor ball could start playing games in July

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Tillsonburg Minor Baseball president Scott Vitias is hoping to see teams back on the diamonds this summer.

“We’re hopeful to open some time in July with the announcement that was made yesterday (May 20), we can maybe start it with some practices and small groups and stuff,” said Vitias. “And maybe, hopefully get to some gameplay by mid July.”

There are some challenges for Tillsonburg minor ball, he admitted.

“We draw kids from two different health units because we get kids from Norfolk that come to Tillsonburg, so we’re not sure… It’s still kind of all up in the air the same as everything Covid related, but we do have plans.”

Basically, he said TMBI has Plan A, Plan B and even Plan C if necessary.

If Tillsonburg minor ball has to play within its own health unit (Southwestern Public Health, which is Oxford and Elgin Counties), they would set up a Tillsonburg, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Aylmer, St. Thomas loop.

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If it opens wide up, the top tier teams will again be playing from Sarnia to Guelph.

Or they could be limited to the traditional Southern Counties league, which is basically the Southwestern and Haldimand-Norfolk Public Health units.

“We do have many plans, it’s just a matter of what we’re allowed to do and run with it at the time,” said Vitias.

TMBI, which did not have a 2020 season, typically has games scheduled in May. This year will be a half-season at best – but better than none at all.

Vitias suggested there could be a four-team ‘bubble’ playing the month of July for rep teams and rather than a one-weekend playoff format they could hold playoffs throughout August.

Upper tier travel teams, which draw from a larger geographic area, are usually picked after fall tryouts, and since things had opened up last September, two TMBI rep teams were formed to play Inter-County (peewee and midget).

TMBI’s second-tier rep teams are usually picked in the spring.

“Hopefully we’re going to have a couple bantam teams, possibly two peewee rep teams, maybe one playing in the London league.

“Our house league season, maybe we could extend that right to the end of August.

“Our numbers are decent,” he said, noting there was no baseball season last year and this season is delayed. “Every year’s been up and down a little bit, but it’s been really good for the last 5-6 years, really good.”

TMBI had been scheduled to host back-to-back OBA bantam tournaments starting in 2020. An extension was granted to host ’21 and ’22, but Vitias is hoping to see another extension to ‘22 and ’23 if this year’s OBA tournament is cancelled.

“It’s very hard to find a centre with back-to-back diamonds like this (Sam Lamb Field). A lot of towns, you’ll have one diamond here, then you have to travel to the other side of town or into another town. So it’s very convenient to have these two diamonds situated like this.”

cabbott@postmedia.com

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