Minster, Fort Loramie to play summer softball

By: 
Seth Kinker
Sports Editor

Sports are back. 

Albeit in a limited capacity and with the necessary health precautions, sports are back. 

With local facilities and sports leagues making plans for the adjusted timeline and safe reopening, a summer softball league for local high school teams will be taking place. 

On May 26, New Bremen outdoor facilities opened to the public (the Cardinal Booster Center remains closed), Memorial Field in Minster was available for use once again and the Minster Softball social media account posted a tentative summer schedule beginning on Jun. 8 and running until Jun. 25. 

For Minster, two games are scheduled per playing date, with start times ranging from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and include teams from the Midwestern Athletic Conference (MAC), the Shelby County Athletic League (SCAL) and the Western Buckeye League (WBL).

Although there’s been a summer league for softball in the past, the Tri-County League, most Mercer and Auglaize County schools didn’t participate because of the distance needing to be traveled in the summer on their own dime.

“Typically, the MAC teams don’t participate in any summer leagues just because, honestly, most of us have a lot of three sport athletes,” said Minster softball head coach Robb Hemmelgarn. “And a lot are playing other sports starting up in in June. With our season (normally) being over in May, we take June and July off and fire back up in the fall.” 

Fort Recovery, Fort Loramie, Parkway, Sidney, Russia, Van Wert, St. Marys and Coldwater are on the schedule for Minster and preparation for such a league came back in early March.

For Fort Loramie, double headers are planned as well with start times ranging from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. The Lady Redskins have participated in the Sidney-Shelby County Fastpitch League in the past but had to adjust to something completely new as well with the pandemic canceling the spring sport season. 

Hemmelgarn told The Community Post that when everything began to get postponed in early March, softball coaches around the state saw the writing on the wall and began to prepare for not having a spring season. 

“We were going to do something with just the MAC,” said Hemmelgarn. “Some type of tournament in June, but we had to keep postponing our start date because dates kept getting pushed back and no contact periods kept getting pushed back.” 

Their last grasp at getting some sort of games in this summer hinged on if things opened back up by June and new restrictions and guidelines for sports and sports leagues were announced by the Governor’s office in mid to late May. 

“At that point some teams had dropped out of wanting to do anything,” said Hemmelgarn. “We looked beyond the MAC and picked up some SCAL league teams. We had some interest as far as Holgate as far as wanting to come down and play but we’re going to keep it pretty local with the MAC, SCAL and WBL. “

“Robb and I have had a lot of communication throughout a lot of this,” said Fort Loramie softball head coach Brad Turner. “There was loosely something being put together, some communications had, but it was so unknown as far as what was going to happen. I began to schedule games and tried to coordinate with other coaches, saying, ‘hey,’ and letting other teams know who’s playing and who’s definitely starting to schedule games and trying to get a network going of teams out there (looking to play).” 

When putting together tentative plans for softball in March if it were allowed to take place this summer, Hemmelgarn said the eight MAC coaches established rules, umpire pay and schedules. 

After the final product of a summer season rather than a tournament came to fruition and more teams from outside the MAC were added, it was decided that scheduling games and home rules would be up to each team. 

For Turner and the Lady Redskins, it was about using connections he had made throughout his career as head coach to fill out their team’s schedule after first asking SCAL teams. 

“Whether or not it was going to end in a tournament or anything, that wasn’t the main focus,” said Turner. “It was, ‘what can we do to provide some sort of softball experience for this year?’” 

“Some places that don’t have lights and probably can’t play two full seven inning games, they might do a seven inning and a five inning or have time limits and stuff like that,” added Hemmelgarn. “We’re going to try and keep ours at Minster as close as we can to everything (that we normally do). Seven inning games, maybe a two-hour time limit just so things don’t drag out for umpires. Everything else we’ll keep the same. We’re doing everything we can, we want to invite media and we want to have PA announcers.”

Teams will be comprised of their high school rosters with seniors having the option to play if they so choose. If not, teams can call up incoming freshman or supplement their roster with junior varsity players. 

Turner told The Community Post that the three 2020 seniors for the Lady Redskins are all excited to play adding that he felt it was important to give those seniors the opportunity to have a chance at a last season if they wanted one. 

“I talked to each of our girls individually and the majority of our nine (seniors), seven have said they’re wanting to play,” said Hemmelgarn. “Some are kind of looking at it as closure, they know this isn’t the spring season, but they want some kind of closure.” 

“We’re having to do something we haven’t done before in taking this on,” said Turner. “It’s been good to say, ‘hey we're going to try and do this, maybe we’ll see if this works.’ ‘What are you doing as far as umpires go?’ All this stuff. we’ve talked it thru. (Summer) baseball has an ACME congress, they have a structure in place. Softball is unique because there’s such an emphasis on travel ball, so many of the girls play travel teams. That make scheduling difficult. Even if Fort Loramie could get a team together for a Saturday or Sunday, it might be hard to find an opposing team. We’re playing all our games Mon.– Thurs. to accommodate those girls and being able to get games scheduled.” 

In addition to making it a last go round for the seniors, it’s also a chance to introduce the newcomers to thee program to high school softball. 

For Turner and the Lady Redskins, there’s a large freshman class and they would have lost out on valuable repetitions during the spring sport season. 

“I think it’s important for them to have a legitimate understanding and experience of what this sport is about,” said Turner. “I told them I’ll be treating this like the spring (season). I want people here at the field watching the girls and seeing what they’re able to do, I want them to get excited about it. If we weren’t to do anything and we get to next year, we essentially have two freshman classes with the 9th and 10th graders. I think it’s important for our seniors to be playing but also as important for our freshman to get a feel of what our sport is about.” 

“I told the girls, we got together last night and I made it clear to them,” added Turner. “I’m wanting this to be as an authentic experience as possible.”

 

Minster summer softball schedule 

 

Jun. 8  vs. Fort Recovery  (5:30, Diamond 5)

Jun.8  vs. Fort Recovery (7:15, Diamond 5)

 

Jun. 10 at Fort Loramie (6:00)

Jun. 10 at Fort Loramie (7:45)

 

Jun. 11 vs. Parkway (5:30, Diamond 5)

Jun. 11 vs. Parkway (7:15, Diamond 5)

 

Jun 15 TBD

 

Jun. 16 vs. Sidney (5:30, Diamond 5)

Jun. 16 vs. Sidney (7:15, Diamond 5)

 

Jun. 18 at Russia

Jun. 18 at Russia

 

Jun. 22 vs. Van Wert (5:30, Diamond 5)

Jun. 22 vs. Van Wert (7:15, Diamond 5)

 

Jun 24 at St. Marys  (5:30)

Jun. 24 at St. Marys (7:15)

 

Jun. 25 at Coldwater 

Jun. 25 at Coldwater

 

 

Fort Loramie summer softball schedule 

 

Jun. 1 vs. Lehman (5:30)

Jun. 1 vs. Lehman (7:00)

 

Jun. 4 at Jackson Center (5:30)

Jun. 4 at Jackson Center (7:00)

 

Jun. 9 vs. Sidney (5:30)

Jun. 9 vs. Sidney (7:00)

 

Jun. 10 vs. Minster (5:30)

Jun. 10 vs. Minster (7:00)

 

Jun. 15 vs. Ohio Attack (5:45)

Jun. 15 vs. Ohio Attack (7:15)

 

Jun. 17 vs. Russia (5:30)

Jun. 17 vs. Russia (7:00)

 

Jun. 18 vs. Houston (5:30)

Jun. 18 vs. Houston (7:00)

 

Jun. 22 vs. St. Marys (6:00)

Jun. 22 vs. St. Marys (7:45)

 

Jun. 30 at Anna (5:30)