SRSA resumes practices and games

Happy players in the Scripps Ranch Softball Association celebrate during a game. (courtesy of Scripps Ranch Softball Association)

SRSA resumes practices and games

By Nick Ng

The Scripps Ranch Softball Association (SRSA) resumed its practices and games outdoors in late March after it shut down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since San Diego County had gone from the purple tier to the red tier on March 17, players and coaches began to practice outdoors at Cypress Canyon Park, but the organization had to jump through some fiery, legal hoops to get the practices restarted.

John Grady, who is the president of SRSA, said that he and his team had to “check off many boxes” to meet the standards of the state, county and city COVID-19 precautions.

“It was difficult. It’s definitely a bureaucracy. It took a number of people to make sure we didn’t miss anything,” Grady said. “A year later, we’re finally able to get the kids back out there.”

Standard precautions were enforced to allow everyone back on the field, which include social distancing and mask wearing. The players were encouraged to wear a mask while playing, but it was not mandatory.

Grady said that the coaches have become “social distancing police” to maintain distance between the players, especially in the dugouts. No one was allowed to give each other high-fives.

“[There’s] no sharing of equipment, which is a little difficult because we used to share catchers’ equipment for some of the younger girls,” Grady said. “We had to make some modifications.”

This year, the number of registered players topped at 180 – a drop from last year’s 290 players. Some of the
players have “aged out” and many families do not yet feel comfortable letting their children resume playing.

Grady mentioned that other leagues in other communities in San Diego have also seen a large drop in sports participation.

Started in August 1990, SRSA has helped local girls gain scholarships and academic opportunities as softball became more popular. The group played its first season in 1991 and is currently in its 30th year as a league.

Beyond sportsmanship, the SRSA teaches softball players about giving, such as holding charity events for different non-profit organizations and schools. Some of these events include donating backpacks and school supplies to Monarch School and raising money to help the homeless organizations such as Feeding San Diego.

“We also provide scholarships every year to graduating high school seniors that have not only played in the league but donated their time working with the younger girls,” Grady said.

SRSA plans to continue the spring season as late as it can and play through May, but no one knows for certain if anyone will be playing in all-star games and beyond with the pandemic lingering.

“Traditionally, our season would end at the end of April and we would roll into the all-star season,” Grady said. “We would choose teams in May, play some tournaments, host our own tournaments in early June, and go into districts. If they perform well, they go to state and nationals if they are able to.”

Large tournaments are currently discouraged, but Governor Gavin Newsom said that the tier system will be going away in mid-June.

“This could open up a lot more potential for doing tournaments again,” Grady said. “It allows the girls to continue playing the sport at a higher level and getting access to competitions from surrounding communities. That’s why a lot of the girls come back – because of that extra experience after the season.”

For 30 years, the SRSA has held the all-star tournament on the weekend after Memorial Day, and Grady hopes that the tradition continues on June 4 to 6.

“We are hearing that smaller tournaments may start mid-May, so things are looking up,” he said.

A batter keeps her eye on the ball during Scripps Ranch Softball Association action. (courtesy of Scripps Ranch Softball Association)
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