The New Market Rebels, of the Valley Baseball League, may not be playing at Rebel Park but there will be baseball there this summer.
The Rockingham County Baseball League announced last week that it will play a shortened season with games starting June 27. The New Market Shockers, who play all home games at Rebel Park, open at home on June 27 against the Elkton Blue Sox.
New Market Shockers head coach Nolan Potts said that he's excited they get to have a season and it's been a tough process for him and his players.
"From the very beginning our commissioner Randy Atkins was telling us we're going to do everything we can to play this summer," Potts said. "Guys were asking me for updates constantly and I just said hold on and hopefully we'll get some good news. And sure enough, Randy and the rest of the league were able to get a season to be played."
The league has eight teams and they will be playing 21 games with the final regular season game scheduled for July 28. The playoffs will follow the end of the regular season.
Potts, a Handley graduate, is starting his second year as head coach and has been in the league as either a coach or player since 2014.
Potts said the team had its first batting practice on May 31 and played a scrimmage on the road against the Montezuma Braves this past weekend.
The league has COVID-19 regulations for coaches, players and fans.
The players will have symptom assessments by the coaching staff upon arrival to the field. Players and coaches will not share equipment without proper disinfecting. All players not on the field will practice social distancing either in the dugout, bullpen, or other designated spaces. High fives and handshakes are not allowed after games. There will be no spitting, seeds, gum or tobacco allowed.
Fans are allowed at the games but should practice social distancing. They are allowed to sit in family groups in stands (some parts of the bleachers may be roped off to provide social distancing), or in personal lawn chairs that are properly spaced. Fans are also allowed to watch from their cars at the fields.
Bathrooms will be fully stocked with hand-washing items. Concession stands will operate with proper social distancing. All concession stand personnel must wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer or wipes will be provided for fans in the concession area.
Potts, who was named the RCBL Coach of the Year last year, said he's pleased with COVID-19 conditions the league came up with.
"I think people are becoming more aware with what's going on with coronavirus," Potts said. "For us, and in particular the league, we don't want to put anybody's health in jeopardy. We obviously want to play baseball. There's been baseball in the valley for 100 years almost, and Randy (Atkins) had told us from the beginning we're going to do everything we can to play, even if it looks a little different than in past years."
Potts said that he thinks the team should be able to maintain social distancing off the field at Rebel Park without much problem.
"I know for us in New Market, at least, we have a big dugout and then we have a bullpen area on both sides," he said. "We're going to be able to at least spread guys out."
The Shockers will have plenty of local players on the squad this season. Strasburg graduate Tyler Hott, Central grad Luke Estep and Stonewall Jackson grad Tyler Dellinger are on the roster. There are six Sherando graduates: Pearce Bucher, Tad Dean, Jack Duvall, Hunter Entsminger, Frankie Ritter and Darrell Thompson. There are 22 players on the 28-man roster who either graduated from, or will be attending Shenandoah University in the fall.
Warren County grad Jullian Bussells, Stonewall Jackson graduate Cole Holsinger and Central graduate Jared Rice are on the Broadway Bruins roster.
The first five games of the season will be home games for the Shockers.