There’s good news and bad news for the Saipan Little League this season.
The president and coaches of the island’s Little League program met this weekend to hash out the much-anticipated return of baseball to the roster of local sports leagues open to the islands’ youth. Like many sports, youth baseball has had an overly long offseason for reasons that we’re all well aware of. Now that restrictions are loosening, a season has been set, and Saipan can look forward to Little League Majors games as a regular event, beginning June 19.
The CNMI Little League splits players into different divisions based on age group. Thus far, only the Majors League, for players 10-12 years old, has a scheduled season. The Minors, for ages 6-9, and the Juniors and Seniors, 13-14 and 15-16, have yet to resume.
Coaches in attendance were Tony Camacho, George Camacho, Peter Camacho, Greg Camacho, Froilan Camacho, and Chel Castro. Saipan Little League president Mike Borja delivered the news that Little League would be restarting to some mixed feelings. The coaches had clearly hoped to have a full season with multiple age groups in the league. Still, the disappointment was overshadowed by their eagerness to get local baseball back in any capacity, and they were ultimately optimistic for the coming summer games.
The Majors is anticipating a competitive season, with five local teams vying for victory this summer. The lineup has the Braves, Blue Jays, Comets, Marlins, and Twins in competition.
The games will be following restricted guidelines set by the COVID-19 Task Force. Among those restrictions is a limit on the games played on a field in a day. To reduce crowding and encourage social distancing, only two competitive Little League games will be played on a field in a day. This is expected to extend the season a little longer than usual, with Majors games possibly continuing into August. However, since schools will be out for summer on June 11, the Majors can hold games on more than just weekends, and look forward to weekday games on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to take up the slack.
A representative of the task force is expected to attend the first few games, to ensure players and coaches are staying safe and that the Little League is up to the challenges of social distancing.
Borja is eager and optimistic as the restrictions begin to lift. “Let’s get back to normalcy. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” and the Little League intends to move toward it.