Valley Storm set for season’s first pitch

  • Valley Storm catcher Rachel Dodge snags a foul ball for an out against the Berkshire Blaze during the 14U game at the 2019 Mid Summer Storm Tournament at Murphy Park in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Valley Storm shortstop Erica Majka puts a tag on Berkshire Blaze baserunner Amelia Leasure during the 14U game at the 2019 Mid Summer Storm Tournament at Murphy Park in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Valley Storm pitcher Gianna Conte throws against the Batters Box Renegades during the 16U game at the 2019 Mid Summer Storm Tournament at Murphy Park in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Sports Editor
Published: 6/18/2020 4:32:38 PM
Modified: 6/18/2020 4:32:28 PM

First pitch is coming soon for the Valley Storm.

So far, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all tournaments have been canceled. That will change this weekend when the 16U Storm play in the New England State Championships, held in Windsor, Connecticut.

It’s the first of several tournaments still on tap for this summer.

The travel softball organization, which is based in Greenfield, fields teams in four age groups — 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U. There are players from Hampshire County on each team.

“All of our teams are scheduled play in tournaments this summer,” Storm president Gary Conte said. “Nobody is travel too far these days. Every state is doing it differently.”

According to Conte, Rhode Island canceled all its tournaments; Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire have prohibited teams from leaving and are not allowing out-of-state teams from coming in; and Connecticut and New York are open.

Massachusetts will not allow teams to play games until phase three of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan. The state is currently in phase two.

“All the tournaments have pretty severe restrictions as far as being able to play and the formats have changed,” Conte said. “The idea is to just have the girls play. Most tournaments don’t have the championship single-elimination on Sunday. They don’t want people hanging around so basically you go in, play two games in a row on Saturday and you leave. Then you come back on Sunday and play two games in a row and your done. You get out of there and go home.”

Restrictions are in place to keep players, coaches, umpires and fans safe. Tournament are limiting the number of coaches and fans in attendance, umpires need to be 6-feet apart from players, including at home plate, and players need to wear masks and stay distanced in the dugouts.

“I know the girls want to play and stay safe at the same time,” Conte said.

The teams were formed nearly a year ago and have played and practiced together through March.

“We played fall ball and we practiced all winter until pretty much at the end of our practice schedule when all the facilities shut down,” Conte said. “The girls want to play and they have an opportunity. There are a lot of restrictions but the games will go on at this point.”

Suburban softball

The Western Massachusetts Suburban Softball League canceled its season on May 26.

The Suburban Board reviewed all the restrictions, regulations and phase guidelines and decided that the health, safety and well-being of the players, coaches, umpires, families and fans was their No. 1 priority.

“We know this might not be a popular decision, but we feel it’s the right decision for all involved,” league chairman Jason Salls said in a statement posted on the league website. “We’re looking forward to planning the 2021 season and can’t wait to get our teams back on the fields playing the game they love.”

Mike Moran can be reached at Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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