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Close to 300 boys and girls between the ages of 4 through 12 will not have the opportunity to play in the Knoxville Little League program this summer.

Rachel Garner, President of the Knoxville Little League replied, “We came to a decision Tuesday, May 5, to not play ball this summer due to the virus.”

She continued, “We were hoping for a season. The schedules were ready and we were ready to place orders for jerseys. We feel the decision we made as a board was the most responsible thing to do. The ball fields are closed.”

According to Garner the local Little League organization was going to wait until May 15 to make a decision, but they felt like keeping social distancing with young players would be difficult to do, as well as handling equipment and keeping all of that safe as well.

Garner added, “We are hoping to know more in the Fall. We would like to have a Fall season if at all possible.”

The Little League is pondering having a Fall League this year to make up for the absence of summer play.

Also affected with the decision by the Knoxville Little League decision are the young players in Melcher-Dallas, who are part of the Knoxville organization.

The Little League in Knoxville consists of four divisions, Pee Wee (t-ball) for players age 4 through 6. Next is the Rookie League for players age 7 and 8.

Then it is on the Minor League for players 9 and 10. The Little League also consists of the Major League which is for players age 11 and 12.

The breakdown between girls and boys teams showed two extra boys teams this year compared to a year ago.

Garner said the numbers in the league are at a slight increase from a year ago.

The Knoxville Little League Board consists of Garner as the President; Holly Burkhart as Vice President; Sonny Durham as Player Agent; Jaime Holmes as Field Maintenance; Jessica Gullion serves as the Treasurer; Amy Robbins is the Safety Coordinator and Stacy Chapman is the Secretary.

According to Garner the Little League in Knoxville will be refunding money starting May 11.

Melcher-Dallas Little League President Mike Johnson put an announcement on-line that said they will be refunding money to those who signed up this year as well.

In the meantime, despite not playing there are still expenses that the league will absorb such as mowing and sparying the weeds.

There are five fields for the youngsters to play on all at the Marion County Park. There are two fields for the boys and two for the girls along with a Pee Wee field.

Melcher-Dallas has four fields that are available for Little League to play on.

Plans were underway for some improvements at the facility. The improvements ranged from fixing fences, replacing some dugouts as well as some sheds that were aging.

For anyone wanting to assist the Knoxville Little League with their expenses in the down time, donations can be made with checks made out to Knoxville Little League and mailed to PO Box 311 in Knoxville.

“What I really feel bad for are the players and their parents, missing out on the memories that Little League provides,” Garner said.

Perry Bell can be reached at sports@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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