The Herald Chronicle Softball Tournament has been a prominent event in Winchester City Park since the 1980s, and the 38th edition of the annual event is scheduled for June 19-21.
The money raised from the event will benefit the Franklin County High School girls basketball program and the Huntland cross country program.
The tournament was originally scheduled for June 5-7, but the decision was made to push the date back by two weeks due to ongoing statewide restrictions in regards to social distancing and COVID-19.
Steve Lovvorn, the state adult program director for the Independent Sports Association, which runs the event, said that the current executive order from Gov. Bill Lee requiring social and recreational groups to be at less than 50 people can prove problematic with an event the size of the Herald Chronicle Softball Tournament.
“In a softball game, there’s 10 or 12 guys on one side and 10 or 12 guys on the other side. With their fans, it would be right at 50 people,” Lovvorn. “The number of fans that come to these games would exceed 50 people on one sideline, let alone splitting it up.”
Winchester Parks and Recreation Director Darrell Jolley said that plenty of consideration has been given to how to follow social-distancing guidelines as much as possible.
One of the ideas for the event is to remove the metal bleachers at each field and encourage spectators to bring their own chairs to sit in.
“”With the metal bleachers, we’d have to sanitize them each time if we left them there. So we’d probably remove our bleachers and just make sure everybody knows that they need to bring their own seat,” Jolley said.
Jolley added that hand sanitizer will be provided at each field and players will be encouraged to wear batting gloves as much as possible to protect against unclean surfaces.
While organizations such as the UFC and NASCAR have carried on with events without fans, Lovvorn said that is not an option for the Chronicle because the money raised through parking fees and concession sales is a significant part of the fundraising effort.
“If it was just to play ball, we could ban fans and probably play the tournament as scheduled,” Lovvorn said. “But that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about raising funds for those high school programs.”
Jolley said that the money raised will allow the girls basketball and cross country teams to pay for travel expenses and equipment fees during their upcoming 2020 seasons.
“It’s been a great fundraiser for athletic programs in the past,” Jolley said.
The athletes of both programs will help to run the event along with coaches and parents as volunteers.
There will be four divisions at the Chronicle with prospective teams having the option to sign up for the E-class, D-class, recreational or ladies divisions.
The entry fees for each team will be $275 with an additional $35 fee if the team needs to be sanctioned.
Lovvorn said that the tournament can support about 75 teams total with a record 71 teams playing in the tournament in 2019. At the time of writing, 38 teams had signed up for the 2020 edition of the event.
Registration for the Chronicle can be done by going to softballwire.com/tournament/?tourneyID=493. The registration deadline is June 17.
Lovvorn said that the Chronicle is a major event on the softball calendar each year.
“The Chronicle is more than a softball tournament. It’s an event, a source of community pride, I think, for not just the people of Winchester, but the ISA,” Lovvorn said. “We’re pleased to be allowed to be the ones that run the tournament.”
Jolley said that he has been involved in the Chronicle since 1991, and it’s always been a time of reunions with old softball friends.
“People will come out that haven’t played in many years just to see old friends and people they used to play ball against all the time or played with,” Jolley said. “It’s just a softball family reunion.”
Jolley added that if the event goes on as planned, spectators and players should still continue to be cautious.
“We encourage people to wear a mask if you can, sanitize your hands as often as possible and do little things like that. We just hope for a good turnout so we can help the two sporting teams,” he said.
The tournament will begin in the evening on June 19 with games played throughout the day on Saturday and into Sunday evening.
Parking fees for spectators will be $5 per day or $10 for a weekend pass.
For more information, contact Lovvorn at 931-703-2019 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.