MLL games suspended due to coronavirus; play tentatively set to resume in April

On Thursday afternoon, it was decided that because of the immediate threat of the COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, that all Mother Lode League sporting events are cancelled or postponed until April 1.

Calls between league athletic commissioners went back and forth in the early afternoon and all had an opportunity to state their cases as to why play should be suspended, or why it should continue.

On the Mother Lode League website, league commissioner Jerry Rucker wrote, “Per the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health, and the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, the Mother Lode League has canceled all league competitions through the end of March.”

The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section had a statement on its website that read, “While the situation concerning COVID-19 is fluid and can change literally any minute, the Sac-Joaquin Section is keeping in touch with its member schools. At the moment, there are no plans to cancel spring sports. The decision by schools and school districts to postpone all athletic events and gatherings remains one of local control. They are making their decisions in conjunction with local and county health authorities. Several have chosen to postpone events and we believe more will follow. All of the state’s 10 Sections will be meeting with the CIF state office next week to discuss this further.”

Early Thursday morning, Bret Harte High School cancelled its boys’ golf match in Tuolumne County and its softball game in Escalon. As for Calaveras High School, it was determined that its baseball team will get to play its game Thursday evening against Stagg in Stockton and the softball team will get to play in its scheduled two-day tournament in Chico.

Thursday’s decision to cancel all league sports for Bret Harte, Calaveras, Amador, Argonaut, Summerville and Sonora means postponing play for baseball, softball, tennis, swimming, track and field and golf.

Sports all over California have been canceled because of the coronavirus. The CIF canceled all remaining CIF state championship basketball games. The California Community College Athletics Association cancelled its men’s and women’s state basketball tournaments, which were scheduled for this weekend in Lemoore.

On Wednesday, California governor Gavin Newsom ordered Californians to cancel or postpone gatherings of 250, which includes most sporting events and concerts.

“I think being proactive in the situation is the important piece,” Calaveras athletic director Mike Koepp said. “You want to make sure that all the participants are in a controlled situation. When you have kids and teams traveling to uncertain places, it puts more kids at risk."

As of Thursday afternoon, Summerville, Sonora, Bret Harte and Calaveras will continue to have daily practices resume on Monday. Koepp feels that players will be more protected at practices because of the controlled environment, which allows some sort of institutional team control as to who the players interact with.

As for when Mother Lode League teams will be able to return to competition, the target date is April 1, but that depends on what happens with the spreading of the coronavirus over the next three weeks.

The Mother Lode League athletic directors have yet to figure out exactly what the plan will be for rescheduling games, should the target date of April 1 be reached. It is most likely that a round of league play will be cut from baseball and softball and the rest of the sports will be looked at on an individual basis.

“We are going to have to have conversations as a league in the next week or so,” Koepp said. “We are dealing with a lot of spring break times, too. I’m not sure when we are going to convene and figure it out.”

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