Baseball returns for summer camp in south Jersey

MARLTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- It may not be a game on national television, or in front of 40,000 screaming fans, but the 8 to 12-year-old boys of summer with Marlton Baseball are as excited any team to be back on the diamond.

"I just missed baseball so much," said 10-year-old Jacob Keefer, who may have spent quarantine practicing more than some pros.

"It was really hard. I had to practice every single day by myself. It was really annoying. I had no one to talk to," he said.

"You could tell kids just weren't being active. There was a lot of rust to chip off, fatigue set in early on, and they just really needed to get out and socialize with the other kids," said one of the coaches, Rob Valli.

They usually have a spring season too but that obviously had to be canceled. But the coaches say they're happy to find a way to play this summer, even with new rules.

No one is allowed to access the dugout and there are markers on the ground behind the backstop to encourage social distancing for the batting team. While playing, however, the kids do not have to wear masks.

"They are kids, they want to be near each other, but we're doing our best efforts to space them out so everyone remains safe," said Mike Appalucci, the camp coordinator.

The coaches say it's also given a sense of normalcy to the kids, who didn't seem to mind the week's extreme heat.

You know, it's baseball weather. We're just happy to be out and on the field and playing," said Valli.

"Our coach tells us 'work for your team not for yourself.' So I worked for our team," said Keefer.

The camp has one more week scheduled for this summer, starting July 20th.
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