The Kino Baseball League announced today that its Sun Belt College League will go on as scheduled at the Kino Sports Complex with players reporting Monday to start workouts.
The league will consist of six teams with college-age players. Presently, 138 players have signed up to play in the league, which has its opening games scheduled for June 26. The league is in its 10th year of existence.
“The folks at the Kino Sports Complex and (Pima) county have been very amicable and very helpful getting this thing started. We have a good partnership and we were able to get things going,” said Bill Leith, the president of the Kino Baseball League who must adhere to state and county policies in addition to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to plan the league amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With support & guidance from Pima County & @kino_complex the Sun Belt College League Tucson will be allowed to be played. Team practices begin week June 8. Games start June 26. Kino Sports Complex and Kino Stadium. pic.twitter.com/SUGuqSj1SB
Leith said that no spectators will be allowed at the practices at the different Kino Baseball Complex fields. A determination will be made closer to the June 26 opening date by the Pima County administration and Pima County Health Department on whether spectators will be allowed to attend games. No concession stands will be made available until July 20.
“We’re gonna be doing some very strong mitigation,” Leith said. “That includes physical distancing and face coverings will be required in certain aspects. For instance, we’re going to require the coaches to wear face coverings when on the base paths, when they are coaching.
“They must wear face coverings anytime they need to go out and talk to the pitcher. Everybody in the dugout must wear facemasks. We even have things right down to how we’re going to wipe down baseballs after they are used.”
Reenie Ochoa, the director of the Kino Sports Complex, issued a letter to users of the facility and included these policies as well:
- No high fives, fist bumps, handshakes or hugs before, during or after the activity.
- No seeds or spitting of any type.
- No sharing of drinks from a bottle.
The league the last two years has hosted a widely popular July 4 all-star game that included a postgame fireworks, but that event will not be held this year, Leith said.
The KBL has also changed social-distancing requirements for umpires to remain behind home plate with a face covering. Last month, the Kino Umpires Association planned to have an umpire call balls and strikes behind the pitcher, but the concern over the umpire getting struck by a line drive nixed that idea.
The teams in the Sun Belt League include the Desert Vaqueros, Old Pueblo Kings, Pima Aztecs, Sabino Springs Scorpions, Santa Rita Warthogs and Southeastern Wildcats.
Some of the most noteworthy players include infielder Kevin Jimenez, formerly of Nogales High School who is now at New Mexico State, former Ironwood Ridge standout outfielder Seth Nager, who attends ASU, and Tulane pitcher Adam Grintz.
Jimenez and Nager will play for Santa Rita and Grintz with Sabino Springs.
Each team will play 20 games with a playoff by the end of July.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.