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Girls get chance to play softball tournament at Stewart Park

Posted at 6:37 PM, May 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-30 20:56:02-04

Stewart Park has been the site of softball in Billings during Phase One of reopening in Montana.

The Milbrant Memorial Fastpitch Softball Tournament followed those same guildelines that the Yellowstone County Health Office has put out COVID-19.

The tournament has 20 teams playing on Saturday and Sunday.

Deven Creech of the Billings Force U-18 team missed her senior season at West and she is happy to be playing.

"At first I had a little bit of jitters, but then I was like, this is a nice place to be," Creech said. "It's normal."

"They're really excited to play games," said Coleman Rockwell, youth U-12 coach. "Kids for sure. Parents man are super stoked up. It's fun to watch. They're invested and want to watch their kids play."

The Milbrant Memorial Fastpitch Softball Tournament is a fundraiser for the Billings Umpire Association.

Teams compete in four age groups from under 12 years old to under 18 years old.

"We call it high school division which is 16, 18 under, USA Junior Olympics softball girls, " said Douglas Frank, tournament director.

It looked fairly normal out at Stewart Park, but to make this tournament happen, they had go about doing things just a little bit differently.

"Thank you to city of Billings and to Yellowstone County Health," Frank said. "(Yellowstone County Health Officer) John Felton came up with protocols for us to follow," Frank said. "To keep the social distancing. Keep the disinfecting."

A lot of hand sanitizer and wipes. We are able to play under phase one. some of the bleachers are stood up so people can't sit on them, spreads out the fans more."

The dugouts had to be extended into the bleachers for proper distancing.

And umpires disinfect the softballs every half inning.

The game is the same but players still made some changes on the field.

"Having to not high five your team mates and not saying good job and cheer with them," Creech said.

And the sportsmanship is different.

"Can't shake their hands," Creech said about the other team after a game.

But they're all happy to play.

"It's helpful for your head," Frank said. "Get out there in the sunshine and throw the ball around."

"Softball people are crazy," Rockwell said. "They want to be out here. It's a tough sport and they love it."

"I've been playing these girls for years and just seeing them again is kind of nice," Creech said.

Rockwell also coaches at Central and is running tournaments the next two weekends.

Rockwell and Frank say more teams will show up for those tournaments, since there will be no 14-day quarantine requirement.

And they expect the bleachers will be back for spectators under Phase Two.