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DIFFERENT FEEL

Cty prepares for unusual 50th anniversary

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge celebrates after defeating Cedar Rapids Kennedy during the state tournament last season at Rogers Park.

The 2020 state softball tournament will be unlike any other as the event’s 50th anniversary is celebrated at the end of the month.

Parks and recreation director Lori Branderhorst and her staff continue to diligently prepare Rogers Sports Complex for the tourney, which is scheduled to take place July 27-31. The global pandemic has significantly altered the schedule and arrangements for the 40 qualifying teams, but the show will go on — and Fort Dodge will be ready.

“We’re working hard to make sure we’re as prepared as possible, both for the expectations of the (Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union) and all of the schools that will be making the trip here,” Branderhorst said. “Of course, that’s always our mission regardless. But in this situation (with the continued prevalence of COVID-19), we are focusing even more on situations and scenarios to have our workers and volunteers ready.

“We’ll do our best to do our part.”

There will still be five quarterfinal games on both Monday and Tuesday, but the Kruger and Iowa Central Community College fields — Diamonds 1 and 2 — won’t be the complex’s only active spots on the championship side. To help space out fans and avoid overlap between games, two of the “mini-major” fields — Dodger and Veteran — will also host quarterfinal contests.

Kruger Field quarterfinals will be at 11, 3 and 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. Iowa Central quarterfinals are at 11:30, 3:30 and 7:30 for the same classes.

Dodger (12:30 and 4:30) and Veteran (1 and 5) will host two quarterfinals each on the first two days.

All semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday at the same times, spread out over the four fields.

“We’re doing everything in our power to ensure social-distancing opportunities for everyone in attendance,” Branderhorst said. “Not just in the stands, but with restrooms, concessions and commons areas. Thankfully, we have the space and the facility to accommodate (the adjustments to the seating and the schedule).”

There will be no consolation contests beyond the third-place games on Thursday (for 5A and 4A) and Friday (for 3A, 2A and 1A). Championships will be Thursday and Friday on Kruger Field (Diamond 1), with consolation finals on the Iowa Central diamond.

Fans will be asked to wear masks while in commons areas. All Fort Dodge parks and recreation staff members will be wearing masks and shields.

There will be no set capacity at a given game, per se, though all bleachers will be prepared with social-distancing measures in place and crowds are expected to take the same necessary precautions from wherever they are positioned.

“We’ve been meeting regularly to go over protocol, but we’ve tried to present a clear and concise message all year long (at Rogers Park): come for the game, go to your seat, no wandering around,” Branderhorst said. “We’re hoping that people act responsibly and use both good judgment and common courtesy while they are here.

“We’re setting the tone as the first (high school championship event in the country during the pandemic, alongside state baseball, which is July 24-Aug. 1 at Principal Park in Des Moines), so I really hope everyone takes it seriously and we do things the right way. All of us.”

An adjusted map with parking instructions, team assignments and different admission gates will also be released to the public. Regional championships are this coming Monday and Tuesday in the state’s five classes.

“I’m optimistic. As we’ve had discussions with opposing teams and families (during the regular season at Rogers Park), they understand for the most part that we’re in unusual times and nothing is ‘normal’ right now. I’m anticipating the same attitude toward state,” Branderhorst said. “We would obviously like nothing more than to have huge crowds and celebrate the 50th anniversary (accordingly), but that’s just not going to happen at the level of a typical state tournament here.

“We’ve put a lot of time and thought into this. (IGHSAU executive director) Jean Berger and I have been in constant communication, and (IGSHAU representatives) have been up here (to Rogers Park) multiple times, discussing necessary steps and possibilities. We are here to fulfill their expectations.”

2020 STATE SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT

CLASS 5A

Quarterfinals

Monday, July 27

11 a.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

11:30 a.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

12:30 p.m. (Dodger)

1 p.m. (Veterans)

Semifinals

Wednesday, July 29

11 a.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

11:30 a.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Third Place

Thursday, July 30

3:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Finals

Thursday, July 30

5 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

CLASS 4A

Quarterfinals

Monday, July 27

3 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

3:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

4:30 p.m. (Dodger)

5 p.m. (Veterans)

Semifinals

Wednesday, July 29

12:30 p.m. (Dodger)

1 p.m. (Veterans)

Third Place

Thursday, July 30

6 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Finals

Thursday, July 30

7:30 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

CLASS 3A

Quarterfinals

Monday, July 27

7 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

7:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Tuesday, July 28

11 a.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

11:30 a.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Semifinals

Wednesday, July 29

3 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

3:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Third Place

Friday, July 31

1 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Finals

Friday, July 31

2:30 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

CLASS 2A

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, July 28

12:30 p.m. (Dodger)

1 p.m. (Veterans)

3 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

3:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Semifinals

Wednesday, July 29

4:30 p.m. (Dodger)

5 p.m. (Veterans)

Third Place

Friday, July 31

3:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Finals

Friday, July 31

5 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

CLASS 1A

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, July 28

4:30 p.m. (Dodger)

5 p.m. (Veterans)

7 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

7:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Semifinals

Wednesday, July 29

7 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

7:30 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Third Place

Friday, July 31

6 p.m. (Iowa Central/Diamond 2)

Finals

Friday, July 31

7:30 p.m. (Kruger/Diamond 1)

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