Players, coaches adjust to COVID-19 rules

 AREA (June 22) -- All across the state last week, Iowa baseball and softball teams became the first preps in the nation to “play ball” since COVID-19 shut down the sports world in March.
 From social distancing to disinfecting game balls that are touched by spectators, this year’s early-season games have marked an adjustment period for players, coaches and umpires as everyone adapts to the new health guidelines and rules.
 “You do what you’ve got to do, right?” noted HCHS head softball coach Toshia Kasperbauer. “It’s working and you do what you’ve got to do because obviously we want to play.”
 The baseball and softball seasons started about three weeks late in Iowa after spring sports were completely cancelled. Players and coaches did not find out for certain until May 20 that there would be a season. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds gave the initial green light for high school sports and the Iowa High School Athletic Association, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa Department of Education also approved. Practices began on June 1 and the first games were played on Monday, June 15.
 HCHS baseball coach Steve Daeges thought that his players were more in tune with some of the new guidelines and rules in the second game June 16 at Kuemper compared to the opener at St. Albert.
 “Isaiah (Ahrenholtz) hit (a) home run and everybody goes out of the dugout to high-five him, which you’re not supposed to do, and I’m yelling at them to get back in the dugout," Daeges said. "It’s a little different, but I thought that it seemed a lot better (Tuesday). It seemed more normal.”
 One of the changes involves the handling of the game balls, which no longer includes the umpires. Each team controls half of the game balls and is responsible for retrieving foul balls and out-of-play balls while on defense. When a ball is hit out of play, one of the coaches (or a player) throws a new one to the pitcher. Spectators are discouraged from picking up foul balls. If they do come in contact with a ball, it will be disinfected before being used again.

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