The wait is over for Bendigo baseballers.
The state's peak body Baseball Victoria has given the green light for both junior and senior competitions to commence.
Full-contact training is allowed from July 13 and the Bendigo Baseball Association's plan is to hold its first round on July 26, with the juniors yet to be 100 per cent set in stone but likely to be around the same date.
The reality of the 2020 BBA season is particularly special for the Strathfieldsaye Dodgers.
The Dodgers' division one squad will have the opportunity to defend their 2019 title.
They are the reigning champions after defeating the Falcons in 2019, the team's first finals series win in 20 years.
"Some of the boys started training prior to Christmas last year," Dodgers coach Peter Ritchie said.
"We were on a real roll with our seniors and also had some juniors involved. Unfortunately then all of the virus restrictions hit.
"But then on Wednesday night when we received notification of the start date, they were absolutely pumped and trained harder and longer than usual."
BBA president Luke Martin said the Dodgers deserved the chance to defend the title this year.
"It really would be disappointing for the Dodgers if they weren't able to defend their title after putting on such a great performance last year," Martin said.
Overall, Martin said the announcement by Baseball Victoria was pleasing news to all of the BBA's four clubs: Dodgers, Falcons, Bendigo East and the Scots.
"It is such welcome news particularly for the clubs who have really been hanging out so that they are able to get focused on the season," Martin said.
"The season will be shorter than usual, but a reduced season is better than none at all. Especially as it will be longer than we had first anticipated amid all of the coronavirus restrictions."
At this stage the plan is to run 11-week seasons for both seniors and juniors which also includes finals.
As expected, the season will run under strict health and safety guidelines set by Baseball Victoria.
"The season will look a little different than normal, but at least we're back out there engaging with the Bendigo baseball community," Martin said.
"Especially for our junior competition as we've been working extremely hard in recent years to rebuild it."
Ritchie said increasing junior participation had also been a target for the Dodgers.
"One of the most pleasing things as of late is getting our juniors up and running again and to my knowledge they are all very excited about having a season this year," he said.
One of the Dodgers' stars, Billy Parsons has been integral to increasing interest among the younger players.
"Over the summer break Billy has continued to mature into a great young man and has been involved with our juniors," Ritchie said.
"The kids simply love seeing him out there on the field. Billy is young man who certainly will go places."
Parsons was set to take his skills to the European continent this year, but those plans have been put on hold.
There are now plans for the star pitcher to play with Sunshine Baseball Club in Melbourne during the summer season.
Baseball Victoria will continue to keep the community up to date with any changes to dates and health and safety guidelines.
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