BASEBALL: Owls anticipate start to season; no home games for a while though

BASEBALL: Owls anticipate start to season; no home games for a while though

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Statesville Owls general manager and head coach Mike Bonifay said that as of Thursday the Owls’ 2020 college wooden bat season would get under way June 14 at Moor Park in Mooresville against either the Mooresville Spinners or Race City Bootleggers.

“It might get pushed back though,” Bonifay said.

COVID-19 delayed the start to the campaign. Openers are typically played the last week of May or the first week of June.

A complete schedule isn’t available yet, but Owls officials expect to play in the neighborhood of 25 games this summer. That is about 15 fewer than normal.

“I feel pretty confident we’ll get some games in,” said Bonifay, Montreat College’s pitching coach.

South Iredell High School will be the home site for the Owls this season, Bonifay noted. But they won’t host a game until July due to campus restrictions.

Whatever games are played in June will be on the road.

“It doesn’t bother me that much,” Bonifay said. “I kind of like playing the bigger teams in the bigger parks and trying to come away with a win.”

Don’t expect big crowds, at least not initially.

North Carolina is currently in Phase Two of the reopening plan signed by Governor Roy Cooper. It restricts mass gatherings outdoors to no more than 25. The order is scheduled to run through June 26.

Statesville finished 21-21 overall and 17-19 in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League a year ago when West Iredell High School served as the Owls’ home field. The record included two victories and two losses in the playoffs.

The Owls leave the SCBL this summer in favor of returning as an independent. That was the status in 2018 when the organization enjoyed the best regular season (21-5 record) since its 2010 inception. Because Statesville was an independent, it wasn’t eligible for the playoffs.

With respective college seasons ending prematurely due to the coronavirus, eagerness to get back on the diamond is certain to be at an all-time high for Owls players.

“A lot of guys are just ready for this to be over and ready to get out on the field and play,” said Bonifay, whose Montreat baseball team was 15-12 coming out of spring break when the Cavaliers learned their season was over.

“A lot of the guys have been putting in work, hitting and throwing. They’re going to be ready whenever it’s time."

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