More-definitive plans for summer college-level team amid novel coronavirus pandemic could emerge around May 1

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With the team’s earliest-ever, planned 2020 season and home openers still six weeks away, management of the Chillicothe Mudcats summer baseball team is simultaneously both moving forward and marching in place.
The board of directors of the Grand River Entertainment-fostered college-level, wood-bat team had its monthly meeting April 7 and received positive updates from its operational hierarchy, board president W.L. “Butch” Shaffer III tells the C-T.
“Overall, we seem to be in pretty good shape, all things considered,” Shaffer relates.
Shaffer’s caveat, of course, reflects still general societal uncertainty about the near-, mid-, and long-term impacts of the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the voluntary and mandatory measures implemented to attempt to mitigate its impact.
While the Mudcats’ first game isn’t slated to be played until the last week of May, many preparatory and operational details need sorting through in the interim for the games to proceed – whether on the original schedule or some time later.
“If we play, it probably will be a short season (chronologically),” the team prexy acknowledges, “but we’re going to try to play, if we can.”
With a planned 9-teams, 2-divisions league this summer, the MINK League has set a schedule of 40 league games for each team. If the start of the season is delayed, how many of those games would be able to be played largely hinges on how long the delay lasts. A start in the June 10-15 range might allow the full schedule to be played on a more-compact schedule incorporating fewer days off, more doubleheaders, and/or pushing the planned end of the season back some.
Barring any dramatic COVID-19-related developments between now and the end of April, Shaffer reports the Mudcats’ board plans to meet again around May 1 to see how things stand – both from the Chillicothe team’s standpoint and the league’s – and make any decisions they can, regarding how the 2020 season proceeds.
“We would like to play baseball this summer if at all possible,” he reiterates. “We have coaches and players ready to play. The most important thing is the safety and welfare of the entire community.”