No rundown? Kelowna softball rules will be a little different this summer - InfoNews

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No rundown? Kelowna softball rules will be a little different this summer

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May 12, 2020 - 7:30 AM

Softball, along with other sports, is going to be played a little differently this summer due to COVID-19.

Kelowna native Jason Ranchoux is an umpire and part of Softball B.C.'s return-to-play task force creating a new kind of softball game over the last few weeks. Softball B.C. deals with both fast and some slo pitch leagues for both children and adults.

Softball B.C. has partnered with Baseball B.C. and will be bringing their plans to viaSport British Columbia, the provincial government's delivery arm for sports, this week. If approved, then their plans go to the Ministry of Health and then the City of Kelowna to determine if they can use the recreational facilities. If all green lights are met, then it’s time to play ball, Ranchoux said.

“Now it’s just cross our fingers and hope if people do get back on the field no one gets sick or else we'll get shut down again,” Ranchoux said.

READ MORE: Kids summer soccer cancelled across the Central Okanagan

ViaSport is currently working with sports groups to develop a set of guidelines on how to operate safety during the pandemic, according to a statement issued by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare, May 11.

For Softball B.C. and Baseball B.C., game modifications may include: no tagging, and runners may also use safe lines instead of bases. Both organizations have been considering the idea of putting the umpire behind the pitcher around the second base if the umpire doesn’t feel comfortable wearing a mask in their typical spot near the batter and catcher, Ranchoux said.

It’s been tough to find an alternative position for the umpire because it’s so crucial for calling strikes, he said.

But one of the most notable changes could be the rundown.

“A rundown is when a runner gets stuck in-between two defensive players and the runner has to run back and forth to (find a safe base),” he said.

"So we recognize that in this world that is a situation we may have to avoid, so we thought about eliminating rundowns by using a slo pitch rule with commitment lines, so as you run to third base and go towards home there’s a line and if you cross that line and if you continue and keep going home you can’t go back to third base. We are toying with the idea of putting a commitment line in-between first and second, and second and third so it’s very clear on the field where the runner can’t turn around anymore,” he said.

He doesn’t anticipate the league will be up and running before June 1.

Last week, Premier John Horgan announced B.C.’s restart plan, which includes a possible return of sports and recreation from mid-May onwards if B.C.'s number of COVID-19 cases remains low.

Slo Pitch National, which also has leagues across B.C., has also released recommendations for how players can stay safe while playing ball, including but not limited to: players using their own batting gloves, face masks, bats, sanitizer and that teams use their own set of balls. Balls should be wiped before each inning and players are recommended to leave and not congregate directly after a game. For a full list of their recommendations, visit the organization’s website.

Urban Rec is another private sports league in the city that offers soccer, slo pitch, floor hockey and more. Managing partner Jamie Taverner said she’s waiting to see when the city will start opening and adjusting facilities to suit provincial guidelines before seeing what Urban Rec can do.

Lance Kayfish, risk management with the City of Kelowna, said plans to re-open recreational facilities will be unveiled in the coming weeks, using a phased approach, consistent with the direction of the province and provincial health officer.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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