Big Swing

A player takes a swing at a pitch during a Southwest Little League game at Sterkel Park. The league announced Wednesday it would cancel its 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

MANSFIELD — Southwest Little League became the latest COVID-19 casualty.

The SWLL board decided Wednesday to cancel its 2020 season because of a myriad of issues brought on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to insurance and parents pulling their kids, we decided to cancel our season,” SWLL board member Audrey Restelli said. “It was a hard decision, but there was too much of a risk.”

League officials had hoped to be able to move forward with the season after Gov. Mike DeWine announced late last week baseball and softball (and a few other non-contact sports) could resume May 26 as part of the Responsible Restart Ohio initiative.

The league extended its registration, but was still about 60 kids short as of Monday.

“Our numbers kept dwindling and it just didn’t work out this year,” first-year SWLL president Rocky Snelling said. “It’s very disappointing for everyone, especially the kids. It’s not the way I wanted it to start off as league president.”

SWLL joined the Lexington Baseball Softball Association, which announced over the weekend it would cancel its season. Youth leagues in Ontario and Madison plan to begin play in June.

“Every community has to decide what is best and I don’t know if there is a right answer,” Ontario Youth Sports director Kenn Spencer said Tuesday. “Nobody has ever had to deal with something like this before. This is all new for everyone.”

Both Ontario and Madison have extended their registrations through this week, opening the door for players looking for a place to play. Spencer and Madison’s Dave Miller said they would accept players from other communities until rosters were full.

“We’ve reached out to the parents of children we know still want to play,” Snelling said. “We’re encouraging them to find a different route for this summer.”

Snelling said parents who already had registered their children have three refund options.

“We’re offering full refunds or if parents want to pay it forward for next year, they can leave it in the account and they would be taken care of for next year,” Snelling said. “Or they can donate it to the league to help with operating costs.”

Snelling is hoping 2021 will be better than 2020.

“I don’t think it could get any worse,” Snelling said. “This has been difficult for all of us.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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