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Home sweet home, at last

Liberty baseball brings back just about everybody for 2020
The scoreboard at Liberty High’s new baseball diamond will light up on Thursday, June 18, as the Lightning take on Cedar Rapids Washington in a junior varsity-varsity pair starting at 5 p.m.

NORTH LIBERTY– The Bolts’ diamond was finished last year, but not in time for Coach Tom Cronk and his crew to play on it.
After two seasons of being full-time road warriors, with “home” games played at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, the Liberty High Lightning will finally get to play on their own diamond on Liberty’s campus in North Liberty.
The Lightning went 23-18 overall last year and had a 16-14 showing for their first season in the Mississippi Valley Conference (MVC). They lost only one senior, Isaiah Pihl, from that squad, and return the entire starting lineup for the shortened 2020 campaign.
Liberty has 15 seniors this season: Jacob Norris, Isaac Bender, Nolan Frey, Hunter White, Chris Nicknish, Tyler Dahm, Cayden Duhaime, Chase Hutchinson, Brady Houser, Ryan Nugent, Alec Boldt, Jonah Warren, Sam Rechkemmer, Sam Funke and Ben Campbell. Frey led the Bolts with 62 hits last season and a 4-2 record on the mound, earning him Second Team All-State and MVC honors. Bender belted out 41 hits including two homers, Boldt smacked 23 hits, Duhaime put up 21 and Norris knocked 20 hits.
Seven juniors are on the roster: Keian Secrist, Cody Schroeder, Max Tafolla, T.J. Kimm, Ethan O’Donnell, Jack Kinzer and Zack Anderson. Secrist was an All-District Second Team pick last season with 46 hits and a 3-4 pitching record.
Rounding out the squad is sophomore Hayden Vickroy.
Coach Cronk, in his third year (34-40 record) with the Bolts, noted they are a “mostly intact team,” and added “Jonah Warren and Tyler Dahm are healthy after limited time last year.”
Brent Kimm, Jacob Neilson and Uby Martinez will assist Cronk this season.
The ongoing 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic postponed the start of official practice until Monday, June 1, with the first games not allowed until Monday, June 15. Guidelines from the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) in consultation with the Governor’s Office, Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education have shaped practice sessions, and will also impact the fans’ ballpark experience this season.
“It was a good first week (of practice),” Cronk said on Sunday, June 7. “Lots of hand sanitizer! Kids are excited to be together, and need reminders to stay distanced.” Players are supposed (per the guidelines) to maintain 6 feet of separation whenever possible. The coach said he’s hoping to battle for the Valley Division title, but noted Dubuque Hempstead, perennial powerhouse Iowa City West and Waterloo West look to have a great amount of talent in a very deep division.
The bats will swing in the first game of the year on Tuesday, June 16, with a junior varsity (JV)-varsity pair at City High starting at 5 p.m. The Bolts will break in their new diamond on Thursday, June 18, as they host Cedar Rapids Washington with the JV’s first pitch at 5 p.m. and varsity to follow.
“We are excited to have “Home” games this year!” said Cronk, who advised fans to “Be sure to check local policies on masks, attendance, etcetera!”
Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) policy, as of June 7 states:
* Appropriate areas will be designated for spectator seating that allows for proper social distancing.
* Spectators will be prohibited from congregating near or around dugouts or behind the screen surrounding home plate.
* Per the MVC, each player will be allowed three tickets per game. Attendance will be strictly limited to this rule and tickets will only be issued for a player’s family members. Other members of the community, including students, will not be allowed attendance into games. Each school will provide information to their players on how the ticketing process will work prior to the first game.
* Spectators must not attend if they have symptoms of illness.
* Bleachers will not be used for spectators. Spectators are asked to bring their own chairs or stand and should practice social distancing between different household units. In addition, spectators will be required to wear facemasks while attending games.
* No concessions stands are permitted.
* No spitting of sunflower seed shells.
* Transportation will be provided for students and coaches to away games and appropriate social distancing will be observed on buses. However, student-athletes may also travel to away games with their parents. The district will not approve students riding together or with adults other than their own parent/guardian.
* Health and safety remain the district's priority. Every player, coach and spectator must make the decision best for him or her with regard to participating or attending a game.
* Signs will be posted at each facility with these reminders.

Liberty High Baseball
Tuesday, June 16 AT Iowa City High 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 18 HOME vs. Cedar Rapids Washington (JV/V) 5 p.m.
Friday, June 19 HOME vs. Western Dubuque, Epworth (DH) 5 p.m.
Tuesday, June 23 HOME vs. Iowa City West (DH) 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 25 HOME vs. Cedar Rapids Kennedy (DH) 5 p.m.
Monday, June 29 AT Dubuque Wahlert Catholic (DH) 4 p.m.
Wednesday, July 1 HOME vs. Linn-Mar (DH) 5 p.m.
Friday, July 3 AT Waterloo West (DH) 5 p.m.
Monday, July 6 HOME vs. Dubuque Hempstead (DH) 5 p.m.
Wednesday, July 8 AT Cedar Rapids Jefferson (DH) 5 p.m.
Friday, July 10 AT Cedar Rapids Xavier Catholic (DH) 5 p.m.
Tuesday, July 14 HOME vs. Marion 7 p.m.