Epling hoping to get a high school baseball league going this summer

Brad Davis/The Register-HeraldJames Monroe’s Andrew Hazelwood delivers against Shady Spring April 10, 2019, in Shady Spring.

When spring sport athletes — particularly seniors — had their seasons ripped away because of the fears of the coronavirus, Tim Epling was able to put it in perspective.

“I just imagined my son being a senior and how much that senior season meant to him,” Epling said. “To see him not be able to fulfill that would have been tough to handle.”

Epling wanted to do something about it, and so did area coaches. And it just so happens that with the West Virginia Miners essentially looking at a shortened season, some dates in July have unexpectedly opened up at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

So Epling has put a plan in motion to start a high school baseball league in July.

“These kids did not get to play their spring season, so we just felt it was right to do something,” Epling said. “The phone has been ringing off the hook. Everybody is excited.”

The dates for the league are still up in the air because the Prospect League has not released its revised schedule. The league decided last month to delay its start until July 1.

Like all other sports today, the ability to hold the league still comes with questions. One of the biggest is how the league would be affected by the three-week practice period sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission. Those sessions are usually held in June but have been delayed because of the pandemic. Most counties have elected to start their three-week periods on Monday, July 6, but even that remains contingent upon what type of social distancing requirements might be in place.

High school coaches would not be permitted to be involved with the league beyond those three weeks.

Hope remains alive across the prep sports landscape in spite of the coronavirus. Locally, the Little General Scott Brown Memorial Classic has been postponed until Saturday, July 18.

The North-South Football Classic has been rescheduled for Friday, July 10, with the North-South basketball game likely to be played that same weekend.

Epling said he had not received any solid commitments as of Thursday. Teams from across the region have expressed interest, and Epling plans to extend invitations to many others.

“We can’t take everybody. We don’t have enough spots,” he said. “We have some dates opening up in July. We’re going to try to plug them in and have a nice season for these guys. This way it allowd kids to be able to play organized baseball for their communities and compete against each other in a good atmosphere at the same stadium. It will be a good experience for the kids.”

Anyone who missed this spring, as well as incoming freshmen are eligible for the league.

Epling also assured that any social distancing protocols will be followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Everybody has been affected by this crisis,” Epling said. “I think it will be good for the entire community to come in and play. Nobody has been able to do anything. I’m excited about it.”

Anyone interested can call the West Virginia Miners office at 304-252-7233.

Email: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber

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