TECUMSEH — Normally around this time of year, the Michigan Little League baseball and softball seasons would be gearing up to get underway.

The 11 leagues in District 16, as well as the countless leagues across Michigan, would be getting their various teams ready to take aim at a state title, with the 10-12 year old teams hoping to get a chance to go for the Little League World Series in August.

But with the Little League World Series being cancelled for the first time in its history and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's extension of the shelter-in-place order to May 28 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, those hopes have been dampened somewhat, with Michigan's Little League district leaders and chairman making the call on Wednesday to cancel the state tournaments.

“It was a wise decision because with 16 districts across the state, and we're not sure when we're all going to start or end,” said Larry Fix, president of Little League District 16, “With the travel time and some parents not wanting their parents going to hotel rooms, there was just too many factors to try and schedule any kind of state-wide tournament.”

The cancellation of said state tournaments does not, necessarily, mean that there will be no Little League baseball or softball in District 16 this coming summer.

“Each district is on their own for finding their own schedules and how they want to handle it,” Fix said, “In D-16, we're going to emphasize the regular season schedule, and trying to go back to the good old days of a community-based program.”

Along with leaders of the 11 league areas that comprise District 16 (Adrian, Ash Carlton, Clinton, Hudson, Madison, Morenci, Onsted, Plymouth Canton, Sand Creek, Tecumseh and Van Buren), Fix has moved fast to try and get plans in place to try and get a regular season in this summer, with a possible start date for the season lining up between June 15 and July 1, albeit with a few changes to how players, coaches, fans and umpires will handle the games.

“Besides team size, we also might be looking at moving the kids out of the dugouts and putting them in the bleachers,” Fix said, “so encouraging the fans to bring some lawn chairs and stuff to sit along the fence lines to watch the games. We will have the umpire behind the pitchers mound. We're looking at that right now too, it's not a done deal but it's something we're considering. None of those famous seeds or Big League Chew on the field, and the league's looking at individual helmets for each player so there's no sharing of helmets.”

The potential start date for the Little League season, along with the season as a whole, does depend on several factors that are out of the district's control, lead by how the coronavirus situation is in Michigan and how the state and local governments are responding as the days go by.

“If (Gov. Whitmer) gives us another extension (of the current shelter-in-place order), I'm worried we're going to start running into, some of these leagues have real strong football programs, wrestling programs,” Fix said, “plus, parents might want to actually have some vacation time to share with their kids.”

One of the leagues based in Lenawee County, however, will not be playing even if there is a regular season, as Blissfield's Little League board decided against competing in the 2020 season shortly before the Little League World Series was officially called off.

There is no plan as of now to have the teams play in a postseason, although if there is a postseason tournament, it appears that it will be modified from what a typical district tournament looks like.

“I'm still on a wait-and-see basis for (any playoffs), because I'm encouraging all the leagues to play their regular season, get as many games in as they can, because that gets more kids on the field,” Fix said. “If we're going to have a district tournament, then it gets down to 12 kids from each league, and that's not what Little League is all about, especially to me.

“I want to get as many kids playing, especially this year, to get some kind of normalcy in the summer of 2020 and I think it's better off to have more kids and more teams playing the regular season than to just concentrate on 12 kids from each league to form an All-Star team or a tournament team to play a district tournament.”