By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
The Virgin Islands Baseball-Softball Association will shortly make its second attempt to have its first post Hurricane Irma league in a refurbished E. Walwy Brewley Softball Park.
Plans for the March 21 opening were scrapped, after government postponed all events in light of COVID-19.
Association General Secretary Bria Smith said they’re putting all the measures in place and have contacted the teams about the starting of the league. Players are already on the field preparing for when the greenlight is given for the season opener.
Arial Recovery Group completed the facility refurbishing just prior to the lockdown and government provided the supplies.
“It’s not finished as yet. We’re to have a mural on the right field wall and we’re to get some additional stands and stadium seating and put up a backstop,” Smith told Island Sun Sports. “We’re getting there, but there’s still some ways to go.”
Prior to the lockdown, six male teams including a full team from St. Thomas had registered for the league. Smith said they’ve advised the team that they won’t be able to accommodate them since the borders are still closed. There’ll now be five teams. One of the five female teams comprised of St. Thomas players and she said they too are being informed and whether they want to withdraw the team or they have enough players on Tortola to play.
Two practice matches are being arranged for Saturday at 4 p.m. on the E. Walwyn Brewley Softball Park, between Power Outage and Storms on the men’s side and defending champs Dats Ya Problem and Synergy in the women’s game.
With not many youngsters engaged in the sport as in the past, Smith said along with the BVI Olympic Committee, they’re working on getting Softball back into communities and have discussions with government about getting it back in schools and having school competitions.
“What we’re possibly going to be doing is hosting some softball camps in the coming months and try to get the youths back into softball,” she said. “That’s how some of us were able to get into the sport and have such a love and dedication to it. So, we’re trying to bring that back.”
Smith said before the lockdown, they were looking forward to several teams welcoming new players into the league. She said they saw once dominant teams, for example Power Outage and the Pirates, both of whom had dominant pitchers, have split. Allen “Woodrow” Smith has formed Storms, but still have some development of new players. The same has been seen in the women’s division, with Dat’s Ya Problem and former champs Phytons that once dominated the league with 66 successive victories—has split in two.
“We’re going to have more competitive games and for players to learn the sport,” Smith said.
When asked about pitching development which has steadily declined after Softball narrowly lost to Cuba in the bronze medal game at the 1987 Pan Am Games, Smith said they first have to get youngsters back into the sport.
“We have to be able to reach persons and get them to understand the benefits of softball, the future of softball and how they can participate in it and be a part of that history,” she explained. “Once they learn to appreciate the sport and what it can do for them, then we can introduce them to the different opportunities and the different fielding positions—specifically pitching. We have the buy in from persons like Hon Neville “Sheep” Smith, Allen “Woodrow” Smith and even Ellie Henley, who said he’s here to assist, so we have persons that are interested. We just need to be able to get the numbers back out, get people back into the sport again because I think that was one of our biggest downfalls.”