The Verona Cavaliers will have to wait at least another month and a half before beginning a quest for a third straight Home Talent Baseball League championship.
The HTL Executive Board delayed the opening of the state’s largest amateur baseball league until the July 4 weekend due to the coronavirus. COVID-19 has wiped out spring high school sports and American Legion baseball in Wisconsin, college spring sports and the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and brought Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association to a standstill.
“We are all chomping at the bit,” Verona player-manager David Lund said. “We are holding out hope we can start July 4. It’s a wait-and-see approach.”
The HTL regular season normally includes a 16-game Sunday League and an eight-game Thursday Night League that runs from early May until late July. The playoffs normally begin in early August and a Final Four round-robin championship series finishes in mid-September.
Lund said he would like to see the league get an opportunity to play as many games as possible. He said a shortened season of eight, 10 or 12 games is an option.
Lund said the league could also play some doubleheaders and have games on Saturdays and Sundays. Instead of an eight-team Western Section playoff, the postseason for each section could be cut to four teams each.
Lund said it may depend on city and county mandates for facility use, contact and social distancing. Some HTL teams that use fields owned by local school districts may have to find alternative sites or pull out for a year. In other areas, teams may need approval from their respective towns to use parks.
Many college summer leagues are also canceling their seasons. Verona Area High School graduates Stephen Lund and Keaton Knueppel both have summer ball plans that could be altered.
Stephen Lund is expected to play for the Yakima Valley (WA) Pippins, but the West Coast League’s start date has been pushed back from June 5 to early July. Knueppel was scheduled to play for the Madison Mallards, but the Northwoods League announced it was postponing the season indefinitely.