As Phase 2 of Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to reopen Maine took effect Monday, youth sports in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties were either gearing up for a shortened season or getting an early start on planning for next year.

Penn Estabrook, 13, helps clean the top floor of the snack shack at the Elliot Field baseball and softball complex in Lewiston last month. Volunteers cleaned the complex after it was discovered in March that squatters had been living in the building. The league will begin play on June 15 with strict guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

There will be no Cal Ripken Baseball in Farmington, but the Wilton Parks and Recreation Department is looking at the beginning of July to get its sports programs up and running after the July 4 holiday. Baseball and softball players in Lewiston and the Oxford Hills area are also getting ready to take their first cuts.

The 2020 Western Mountain 7v7 Soccer Classic, hosted by Mt. Abram Regional High School, was officially canceled Monday, too, due to coronavirus outbreak.

Nic Koban, who is president of Cal Ripken Baseball in Farmington, said the season was canceled because the guidelines to ensure safety made it difficult.

“We tried,” Koban said. “We came up with a plan. The rules that would have to be followed and what everybody would have to do. We had one and we passed it around and basically everybody kind of came back and said they just didn’t feel like that was Cal Ripken Baseball.

“It was going to take fun out of it for the kids and it wasn’t really the spirit of what the game is really supposed to be about. When I started getting replies like that, well then I said, ‘OK, let me make a motion to cancel the season,’ and they all said yes.”

Wilton Parks and Recreation director Frank Donald said most of his programs have the green light to begin in July. He thought the Rec committee would allow the department to start on June 1, but decided to wait until July 1.

“We are still planning to do baseball and softball, do it like skills and drills,” Donald said. “We are going to have in-team scrimmages amongst ourselves, and if we are allowed to, we are going to branch out and play some other towns, if there is anybody out there that is (operating).”

He said the Rec Department will limit scrimmages to cut down on the interaction of athletes.

“We will probably do swim lessons,” Donald said. “We have a Zoom meeting coming up with two or three people to kind of make a decision on Friday. 

“Hopefully, we will get our swim lessons in. We are likely canceling the youngest (swimmers’ program). There is just no way realistically you are going to take 3- and 4-year-olds. You have to hold them. There is too much contact there. When you get up to levels four, five and six … you’re dealing with big kids who don’t need the hands-on (instruction).”

David Frey, president of Area Youth Sports in Livermore Falls, is waiting on the towns of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls for their approval to use the towns’ fields for AYS programs.

If AYS gets permission to use the fields, Frey said AYS will do in-house programs such as skills and drills for the kids. He added that parents want their “children doing something” this summer.

Lewiston Baseball and Softball announced late last month that it will start on June 15, with evaluations for team assignments slated for June 6. Registration closed on May 31. The league invited players from surrounding towns that have canceled their season to register for the 2020 season.

In its announcement, posted on its website, Lewiston Baseball and Softball president Tanya Whitlow asked those who registered children to “volunteer as a team parent by taking temperatures before the game, sanitizing equipment and balls and assuring social distancing.”

Last week, the organization released a plan to “safely resume the 2020 season” in accordance with state and federal Centers for Disease Control. The plan includes education for players, coaches and spectators, team protocols, social distancing protocols for spectators, and what the league will do in the event of a player or coach testing positive for COVID-19.

Auburn Suburban Baseball and Softball canceled its season on May 12.

The Andy Valley League, which offers tee-ball, baseball and softball for ages 4-19, in many towns surrounding Lewiston-Auburn, is scheduled to begin June 15, which is around the time the league usually wraps up.

Some member towns canceled their season and registrations are about half of what they normally are due to the season, which is expected to go into August, going deeper into the summer, said Minot-Hebron Athletic Association president Mike Rioux.

“We don’t have as many teams as we normally do, and it’s been more because of how late the season is than (concerns about COVID-19),” Rioux said, noting there will be seven or eight teams this season, half of what the league normally fields. “There is some combining of towns where there aren’t enough kids signed up to have as many teams as possible.”


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