The Sun Belt Summer College Baseball League, comprised of more than 140 college-age players, many of them local, has canceled its season because a player has tested positive for COVID-19, organizer Bill Leith said.
“We are canceling the season based on the player testing positive, and it’s in the best interest of the safety and health of the players, coaches and the umpires, everybody involved,” Leith said. “Also, with the recent surge in cases here in the county and throughout the state it was best felt that we should cancel the league for this year. We’ll play for 2021 when it’s healthier and safer to do.”
Due to privacy concerns, Leith is not publicizing the player’s name. Leith mentioned the player is not showing signs of symptoms. The player was tested after a friend of his tested positive.
The league was scheduled to start next Friday with games at the Kino Sports Complex. The teams have been practicing at the fields there for more than a week.
Leith mentioned that he called all the coaches of the six teams in the league to inform them of the cancellation. He also informed Arizona coach Jay Johnson about it and Johnson was supportive of the move. Johnson was slated to have three players compete in the league — infielder Jacob Blas, third baseman Tony Bullard and outfielder Donta Williams.
Leith confirmed that the player who tested positive was not one of the three Arizona players.
“I was telling Jay this morning that I don’t have the resources to test these players every other day like universities do, or the pro leagues do; I just don’t have that capability,” said Leith, who operates the Sun Belt League as part of his non-profit Kino Baseball League.
“Believe me, everybody is bummed out on this but this thing (COVID-19) is surging and we have to do what’s in the best interest for everybody’s health and safety.”
The Sun Belt League started in 2011 with the intent to give local players the chance to work on their skills in the summer and perhaps showcase their talents for scouts.
Additional players joined the league this season after other summer college baseball leagues nationally canceled because of COVID-19.
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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.