The Verona Cavaliers will look to win a third straight Home Talent League championship when the 2020 season finally gets underway.
Where Verona will be playing home games is the bigger story. The Cavaliers don’t have approval to use Stampfl Field until Phase 3 of the Forward Dane plan – which outlines a return to the county reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the country is still in Phase 2 and Stampfl Field is owned by the City of Verona, the Cavaliers will have to find a new summer home.
“We may have to play all of our games on the road,” Verona player-manager David Lund said.
For more than three months, sporting events and athletic facilities have been shut down due to the pandemic.
The Home Talent League Executive Board on June 8 approved a shortened 10-game season this summer in all four sections that will begin July 4 weekend. The playoffs would feature four or six teams from each section instead of the usual eight teams. The league plans to hold a “final four” single-game elimination championship series Sept. 13 and 20 if possible. The traditional championship series is a round-robin format.
“We can’t afford to have letdown games in the regular season,” Lund said. “We are all at the same level.”
There will be no Thursday Night League games this year.
The HTL Executive Board issued a statement saying, “The approval was given to begin play; it will be under continuous review in both the areas of health and field availability for teams under a county reopening plan in both Dane and Rock counties.”
There are safety protocols that are being required for a return to play.
If a player tests positive for the virus, he must be quarantined for 14 days. The league suggests each player and team official present gets tested before the next game.
If an opposing team does not want to play a team with an infected player, the game will be made up or cancelled.
All dugouts will be sprayed with a sanitizing solution before and after games and practices. There will be sanitizing agents in both dugouts.
The 6-foot social distancing guideline must be observed in the dugout area. That would mean two or three players would be allowed in the dugout, while the rest of the team sits in chairs outside the dugout.
All shared equipment – bats, helmets and catching gear – will be sanitized before and after each use.
“It will be a little weird and different at first,” Lund said of the safety measures. “We will do them as long as we get to play.”
Pitchers will be barred from going to their mouth before making a pitch. Players and coaches should refrain from high fives, fist bumps, elbow touches and handshake lines.
Chewing of tobacco, seeds, gum and spitting is prohibited.
“A lot of players have a routine of chewing sunflower seeds,” Lund said. “It’s a natural habit to chew seeds or spit. It will be an adjustment. After the first week or two, it will become better.”
There will be extra signage regarding social distancing among spectators in the stands and frequent announcements over public address systems.