Anna MacLeod was unsure what the summer would bring.
School had been shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic, leaving the 11-year-old Charlottetown native sad and missing her friends. It also had her wondering if sporting events would take place in July and August.
“I was scared because I wanted to see my friends again and play softball,” she said.
And she wasn’t alone.
“I was scared we weren’t going to be able to play again because it’s really fun to play with your friends,” added teammate Nya Sutton, a 12-year-old Charlottetown native, who plays centre field and second base.
The girls’ wishes for a return to the diamond became a reality a few weeks ago as health restrictions eased, allowing for team sports to begin this summer.
MacLeod remembers her reaction well.
“I was like jumping up and down,” she said.
MacLeod pitches and plays first base for the West Royalty under-12 AA girls’ team. They have practised for the past couple of weeks and had an exhibition game on June 26. The regular season begins Friday at 6 p.m. when they host Cornwall at Central Field.
“I’m happy that we are back,” said Solen Trainor, a 12-year-old Charlottetown native who pitches and plays first base for West Royalty.
Chris Halliwell and his daughter, Sydney, are coaching the squad. Chris, who is also Softball P.E.I. president, said there was uncertainty this spring that a season would take place. Officials had numerous meetings and put contingency plans in place to respond to various scenarios.
“We’re happy just to be on the field this year,” he said. “With P.E.I. being in such good shape, and everybody following the rules and the advice of our health officials, it made it so we could have a season.”
He remembers seeing the smiles on the players’ faces during the exhibition game and practices and is glad there’s a bit of normalcy for them this summer.
“I think a lot of people … will realize we’re just lucky to be playing,” he said.
The summer season comes after Softball P.E.I. was able to introduce an indoor league at Eastern Baseball Academy, near the Charlottetown Airport, during the winter for girls who played under-10 in 2019.
It had four teams of 10 play in the six-aside games.
“We had kids come down from Tignish and Cardigan and everywhere in between. It really was an Island league,” Halliwell said. “It was awesome.”
Initially, organizers feared they might not be able to get enough players to participate due to players having other commitments, including other sports, during the winter.
But it wasn’t an issue.
Some of the players trying out for the province’s 2021 Canada Games squad coached the teams during the 12-week season.
Softball coach finds
needles at city field
Chris Halliwell wants people to be aware.
He and his daughter, Sydney, arrived at Central Field on Friday to coach an under-12 girls’ exhibition softball game. Sydney entered the complex first and noticed two needles on the bench in the dugout at Central Field One.
“I’m glad we got there before the kids,” he said.
They disposed of them and alerted City of Charlottetown staff. It was the first time Halliwell has seen needles in a dugout, but knows others have come across them in the past.
Halliwell, who is also Softball P.E.I.’s president, is spreading the word so everyone is alert.
“I want everybody to be safe,” he said.