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Bolivar High School baseball coach Brad Roweton said he sees sports as a symbol that life is normal.
Following a spring season in which his athletes never got to take the field for a game due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roweton, who wasn’t able to start his eighth season as the Liberators’ head coach, said he’s ready for a return to that aspect of life.
A Missouri State High School Activities Association announcement cleared the way for high school athletic competitions and practices to resume this summer, pending local health guidelines.
Roweton said his team returns to the field for practice Tuesday, May 26. The team hopes to start competitions Tuesday, June 9, he said.
R-1 activities director Todd Schrader told the BH-FP the team will compete in a summer league. Find a full schedule online at BolivarMoNews.com.
“Sports are a symbol that things are normal,” Roweton said. “When you take that away, it means a lot to a lot of people. When it's OK to ‘play ball’ again, so to speak, it would mean a lot to us to be the first ones in helping all of us move back toward normal.”
Key to the Liberators’ successful return to competition is building a new routine amid the safety precautions now in place, Roweton said.
“There will be a lot of challenges besides just trying to be the best baseball team we can be,” he said. “Once we embrace how we have to do things, then we can begin to move forward.”
In a game dependent on strong mental conditioning, those challenges include dealing with necessary safety precautions, which can upset the team’s rhythm and scheduling.
The Liberators will likely play a limited schedule, Schrader previously told the BH-FP, and Roweton said that can present issues with “trying to get enough playing time for everyone.”
Competing for playing time this summer is a reliable contingent of returners, along with a promising crop of newcomers, Roweton said.
“The really exciting part about this group is that they’re talented,” he said of the roster. “We’re going to have to fit people into places and have people accept their roles, and then I feel like we can be a really competitive product.”
Like every year, Bolivar hopes to schedule strong teams, he said. At the 2019 Bolivar Tournament, the Liberators held perennial powerhouse and 2017-18 Class 4 state champion Aurora to just five runs.
Bolivar ended its 2018-19 campaign 14-9 with a 4-1 loss to Hollister in the first round of the Class 4 District 11 tournament. Highlights of the season included a 6-4 win over rival Logan-Rogersville and a 9-inning 14-11 thriller over Nevada.
Key to repeat success in an uncertain year is focus, Roweton said.
“One other important key in overcoming these obstacles is realizing that we get to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves,” he said. “If we can keep the eye on the prize, we can overcome these challenges and hopefully help get things back to normal.”
Fair Play High School baseball enters the summer season with a new coach and a chance at redemption. Under outgoing coach Deric Link, the Hornets finished their 2018-19 campaign 6-9, culminating in a 7-6 loss to Dadeville in the first round of the Class 1 District 6 tournament.
Former assistant coach Patrick Love inherits the team, Link said.
First on the schedule for the Hornets is a doubleheader against Pleasant Hope and Walnut Grove. The teams face off starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, in Pleasant Hope.
Fair Play owns a 1-4 record against Pleasant Hope, with the latest contest, a 17-8 loss, coming in 2018.
Fair Play owns a 9-6 record against Walnut Grove. It last lost to Walnut Grove 16-5 in a 2019 game.
Halfway also opens its summer season under a new head coach as Eric Ingram, head softball coach and assistant to outgoing baseball coach Chip Weeg, takes over the team.
The Cardinals finished their 2018-19 campaign with a convincing 10-6 record, ending in a 9-3 loss to Lockwood in the first round of the Class 1 District 6 tournament.
They’re scheduled to open summer play at home at 5 p.m. Monday, June 8, against Wheatland.
Halfway owns an 8-12 record against Wheatland but last beat the Mules 10-0 in 2019.
Head coach Phillip Davolt’s Humansville Tigers struggled early last season but grew as they went along, he previously told the BH-FP. A 9-5 win over Hermitage in the first round of the Class 1 District 8 tournament showed the team’s progress, but a 6-5 loss to Weaubleau in the second round marked the end of Humansville’s 4-14 season.
The team has a chance to show it’s still trending upward when it opens summer play against Weaubleau at 5 p.m. Monday, June 8, in Humansville. Humansville owns a 4-13 record against Weaubleau.
Marion C. Early finished 19-5 and earned a Class 2 District 8 championship in 2019, its third consecutive district title.
The Panthers will look to repeat that success this summer with head coach Justin Crumpley back for another year.
MCE opens its season at 5 p.m. Monday, June 8, against Dadeville in Morrisville. The Panthers own a 15-3 record over Dadeville and last won 18-1 over the team in 2019.
Pleasant Hope opens summer play with a Tuesday, June 9, home doubleheader against Fair Play and Walnut Grove starting at 5 p.m.
Pleasant Hopes owns a 4-1 record against Fair Play, with the latest contest a 17-8 win in 2018.
The Pirates claimed an eight-inning 9-5 win over Walnut Grove last spring. The teams own a tied 5-5 record.