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Little League season possible

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In this 2018 file photo, an NSA Braves pitcher, right, attempts to catch the, while a Cubs runner slides home and his teammate stays at the plate during their game in the Minor division of the Saipan Little League Baseball at the Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan Ballfield. (Saipan Tribune)

The Saipan Little League Baseball is positive that it can hold a competition for the 2021 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

SLLB president Mike Borja said they have met with stakeholders in the program and will sit down with more groups to discuss how Little League matches can proceed safely under the current situation the CNMI is in.

“We will soon be talking to Little League headquarters in Williamsport and the new Little League district head to ask for guidance for our planned season,” said Borja, who is working with CNMI Little League District administrator James Ada to plan for the resumption of local competitions for baseball players in the U16 age group (Minor, Major, Junior and Senior League).

Little League Baseball, Inc., which sanctions Little League matches in the CNMI, called off the 2020 season for majority of its members and eventually the World Series due to the pandemic. This year, Little League has given members the signal to go ahead with their competitions, but has strongly encouraged them to have a Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) Safety Plan that could include a coronavirus mitigation protocol to create a “safe and healthy environment for all children.”

In this undated file photo, the Little Legals’ Kaipo Dikito gets ready to pitch, while a Bank of Saipan runner prepares to leave second base during their game in the Majors division. (Saipan Tribune)

Borja said that besides the recommendation from Little League, they will also work on the safety measures required by the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force.

“Our priority will always be the safety of our kids and the people involved with our Little League program,” Borja said. “We will adhere to the protocols set by our local task force and the recommendation of Little League.”

SLLB will also meet with teams this month to discuss these safety measures and other important matters about the planned 2021 season.

Meanwhile, SLLB met with Northern Mariana Sports Association, which oversees the management of the Oleai Sports Complex with the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. The complex houses the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios and Miguel “Tan Ge” ballfields, which SLLB utilizes for its games.

The two ballfields sustained damage from Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018, prompting SLLB to hold games only for Minor and Majors divisions at the Capitol Hill Ballfield in 2019. NMSA has since worked on repairs and other improvements at the sports complex and will also have major renovations under Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded projects.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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