The guidelines Gov. Chris Sununu announced Thursday were met with excitement by baseball and softball leagues across the state.
Sununu said in a press conference that the current stay-at-home order will expire next Monday and the state will transition into a stay-at-home advisory, which will allow low-physical-contact amateur and youth sports teams to begin scrimmaging and playing games. Some teams began practicing shortly after the state’s previous guidelines were announced May 22.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Goffstown Junior Baseball President Paul Mattatal said. “We were kind of planning for this and anticipating it being released but it was announced earlier than we thought.”
Mattatal said Goffstown’s six minor teams and five major teams will begin playing June 22. New Hampshire Little League District I teams like Goffstown had permission to begin practicing on June 1.
North Manchester/Hooksett Little League President Joe Lajewski said he is still working to determine when games will begin for the league.
North Manchester/Hooksett started league-wide clinics this week after holding dry-run clinics with smaller groups the past two weekends.
Teams will be formed next week, Lajewski said.
New Hampshire Little League District 1 Adminstrator Sally Dreckmann said the district and state tournaments will take place in August. She is also working to create a tri-state invitational tournament with teams from Maine and Vermont that would be hosted by Bedford Little League.
Little League canceled its World Series and regionals on April 30.
Dreckman said the initial proposal for the tri-state invitational has been approved by Little League Regional and the goal is to play the invitational in late August. Under the new state sports guidelines, only in-state, Vermont and Maine teams are allowed to compete in New Hampshire.
Liz Purdy, who is the president of the Concord-based New Hampshire Lightning travel softball team, was among many within her organization that were thrilled by Thursday’s announcement.
“I sent it right out when it came out — the guidelines — to the whole board via text chain and they was just exuberant,” Purdy said. “All the work that was put in in the winter and fall, finally we’re going to let those kids get out there and have the chance to play.”
Purdy said she is waiting for guidance from USA Softball of New Hampshire regarding when the Lightning teams will begin play. Purdy said during the Lightning 14U Blue team’s Tuesday batting practice that the state tournament was originally scheduled for June 19-21.
“We’re waiting to hear from USA Softball to make sure it’s still a go for that,” Purdy said. “We’re all still communicating with each other trying to figure out the guideline changes ... going through making sure we’re super familiar with all the changes.”
Manchester Cal Ripken league spokesman Jamie Burke said the major teams were put together last week and started practicing last Saturday. By mid-to-late next week, Burke said, the league is hopeful the majors teams will begin playing games. The minors teams have also been put together and will begin practicing Saturday with games beginning the week of June 22, Burke said. Games for the league’s T-ball and rookie teams will likely begin the first week of July, he said.
Cam Cook, who is the general manager of the Nashua Silver Knights Futures Collegiate Baseball League team, said he is hoping to allow players to begin practicing in groups of 10 or fewer at Holman Stadium by mid-to-late next week. The Silver Knights have not practiced or met as a full team yet, he said.
The FCBL consists of teams from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“For the Silver Knights, the goal is to have small practices by the end of next week with full practices probably the last week of June,” Cook said. “And then the Opening Day goal is July 1 across the league.”
Cook said the FCBL regular season will consist of 40 games — 20 home and 20 away — instead of its usual 56-game schedule. The playoffs will be abbreviated to a best-of-three championship series between the top two teams at the end of the regular season.
Bowling, tennis, road races and cycling events and triathlons will also be permitted under the new guidelines.
There will be a limit to five people per bowling lane and businesses have to maintain a minimum of one unoccupied lane between groups.
Groups of up to four people will be allowed to use a tennis court at one time and multiple groups of four or fewer can play on multiple courts as long as the groups do not mix or interact.