Following 2020 shutdown, Little League returns with renewed vigor

Avery Reynolds, front, prepares to pitch. Photo courtesy of Penny Lynn Johnson

Sunday, June 27, Cordova Little League wrapped what may have been its cleanest season ever.

After canceling its 2020 season following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the league returned to action May 2021 with a raft of new guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. This included minimizing equipment sharing, banning sunflower seeds and gum from dugouts and the playing field, and disinfecting foul balls retrieved by spectators. Nonetheless, the 2021 season proved one of the league’s most enjoyable, said Dave Reggiani, league president.

“There was a great deal of pent-up energy and excitement to help get the kids out playing together and enjoying the outdoors,” Reggiani wrote in an email.

This year, the league augmented its safety committee to include interested parents, school district faculty, and Dr. Hannah Sanders, medical director for Cordova Community Medical Center, Reggiani said. At the opening of the season, the league asked players to refrain from inessential interpersonal contact such as handshakes, high-fives and fist or elbow bumps. Alternate gestures of good sportsmanship, such as tipping caps, were recommended.

Cordova Little League President Dave Reggiani addresses players. Photo courtesy of Vivian Kennedy

Next year, the league hopes to re-establish its junior baseball and softball program for players ages 13-16, Reggiani said.

During the 2021 season, 127 players participated in 11 teams, six of which were in the tee-ball division, which includes players ages 4-7. Volunteers provided support as coaches, umpires and hot dog vendors. The league marked the close of the season June 27 with an outdoor barbecue.

“Nothing warms the heart more than seeing a player’s smile that comes from their first hit of the ball, stealing second base, sliding in safe at home plate, or receiving the Crackerjack Award at the end of a game,” Reggiani wrote.

Chartered in 2004, Cordova Little League is a nonprofit organization that provides structured recreation to youth ages 4-16. The league is funded by donations, fundraising events, team sponsorships and player registration fees.

Cordova has reported no new coronavirus cases since May. None of the 130 cases reported locally are believed to be currently active, according to data published by the city.