Following a delay of nearly nine weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 43rd season of Hudson Kiwanis Baseball is scheduled to begin May 30 with the first day of practices for most teams.
"We are thrilled to be able to provide a safe and fun team experience for the youth of our community this summer," Hudson Kiwanis Baseball president David Skoczen said. "Through the hard work of many volunteers, we have planned and will implement safety protocols that meet or exceed state standards."
Rules and recommendations to safely operate youth baseball and softball leagues using social distancing practices were released recently. Hudson Kiwanis Baseball plans to provide bats and helmets throughout the season to players who do not have their own.
Ordinarily, several pieces of equipment are given to each team and stored together. State requirements are that equipment can be shared if sanitized after each use.
The league is encouraging players to sit with family while not actually playing during games and has eliminated the requirement to field catchers for the T-ball and coach-pitch leagues.
Coaches and youth umpires will receive additional training on social -distancing protocols prior to the start of practices.
"These are simple changes that for the most part will not alter game play," Skoczen said. "Safety policy, along with guidance and assistance from the Hudson Parks Department, will help us provide the best possible experience for everyone involved in the program."
Markings will be added to the perimeter of fields to help spectators apply social distancing and in some instances, bleachers will be used as extensions of the dugout to provide more space for players to spread out.
The first games of the season are set to begin June 8, which will allow for a full regular season, playoffs and all-star games to be complete by August 1.
Plans are being finalized for the leagues with players ages 11 and older. These leagues feature competition against teams from surrounding communities. The 13- and 14-year-old and high-school age Hudson Kiwanis teams will continue to compete in the Twinsburg Baseball League with teams from several different cities.
Hudson’s 11- and-12-year-old (Major League) teams are scheduled to play some regular-season games as well as all-star and championship games against teams from Aurora. Those plans will be confirmed after the Aurora Baseball League completes formulation of its safety protocols.
As of Thursday, more than 90 percent of the players who registered prior to the closure of schools in March have remained in the program. Hudson Kiwanis Baseball is continuing to accept new registrations as the start of the season draws near. Players and volunteer coaches can register at www.hudsonkiwanis.com.