Batter Rachel Clegg faced pitcher Makenna Adler-Bock with catcher Ashlen Kenna and umpire Mason Clegg on Sunday, May 30. Fraser Valley Fusion 10A (in red) was playing against Langley Xtreme 09B as the Langley Fastball Association resumed play following a provincial announcement easing COVID-19 restrictions. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Batter Rachel Clegg faced pitcher Makenna Adler-Bock with catcher Ashlen Kenna and umpire Mason Clegg on Sunday, May 30. Fraser Valley Fusion 10A (in red) was playing against Langley Xtreme 09B as the Langley Fastball Association resumed play following a provincial announcement easing COVID-19 restrictions. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley ball players resume competitive play

Provincial announcement cleared the way for intrasquad games

Hundreds of Langley ball players are playing competitively again as a result of the provincial restart plan unveiled last week.

Langley Fastball Association (LFA) president Jeff Clegg said “there was a scramble” after the Tuesday, May 25 announcement allowed resumption of intrasquad and inter-league games.

By Friday, May 28, LFA had approval from the Township of Langley, and players were on the field in Noel Booth park the very next day.

“They’re happy, they’re relieved, they feel good about themselves,” Clegg said.

“We’re pretty hyped.”

READ ALSO: Langley Fastball Association registration drive goes better than expected

LFA has structured the schedule to ensure teams within the 400-member association play a variety of opponents to keep things interesting.

“Our registration numbers are fantastic. People really want to come play ball with us.”

Clegg praised the Township parks staff and the Emergency Operation Centre for making a quick return possible, as well as LFA umpire-in-chief Paul Muirhead, field schedulers Erika Hiebert and Erin A. as well as Rachel Charron from North Langley Softball, who made a “huge effort.”

No spectators are allowed under the current restrictions, but U6 and U8 players can be accompanied by one adult, the LFA notice to parents advised.

Langley Baseball posted images of Little League club players back on the field May 30, saying the City baseball park “was a busy place this weekend.”

North Langley Softball president Trevor Moreno said their players were “rocking and rolling” Saturday after getting approval.

Moreno is hoping the next phase of the restart program will allow teams to start traveling later this month.

After a sustained registration campaign, about 180 players have signed up, about 70 per cent of normal, a good result considering the impact of the pandemic, Moreno said.

North Langley Baseball president Ray Clark said players were “really happy” with the decision.

“All of our divisions are up and running,” Clark told the Langley Advance Times.

Clark said registration appeared to be about 10 per cent down, at around 450, but he expected that will come up as restrictions come off in future.

Shortly after the announcement by the province, North Langley Softball posted a celebratory message to social media.

“We are finally here!!!!” it read. “Whoohoo!”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley softball team plays ball, while maintaining ‘social distancing’

North Langley Softball executive director Rick Benson said there was no advance notice of the provincial decision to lift some restrictions.

In a notice to members, Benson said he was “very excited about the plans to have sport return, and I know I share with all of you a sense of relief and anticipation as we gradually return to full play around the province and, hopefully, soon, the country.”

Benson said the restrictions allow games to be organized for youth teams within their home club, and for adult teams within their league.

Travel is not permitted for game play at this time, and protocols for screening, sanitizing, attendance tracking must still be followed.

Brent Larsen, the Langley organizer of a B.C. petition to allow play to resume, was pleased by the decision, but still wants the province to justify their near-total shutdown of outdoor ball games.

“There’s still eight months to be accounted for,” Larsen commented.

“Someone is going to have to answer for it.”

Larsen has filed a Freedom Of Information request with the provincial government for data used to support the restrictions.

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