KLL beginning to shift focus to fall season

KLL park

It’s not official yet, but it’s becoming more and more likely that Keizer Little League (KLL) won’t hold a spring/summer season due to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, May 13, the KLL Board of Directors decided that if they couldn’t get teams together to practice by June 1, then they would elect to cancel the season.

To make matters worse for KLL’s chances of an abbreviated season. Gov. Kate Brown denied Marion County’s attempt to begin the reopening process last week due to too many recent hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients and a high percentage of cases that can’t be traced.

“I think our season will likely get canceled,” KLL President Ryan Siegel said. “We already have parents asking for refunds.”

For the first time since 1947, there will not be a Little League World Series this summer as Little League International cancelled the annual tournament last month. The decision had a trickle-down effect for programs across the state — and across the country.

State tournaments have been axed at every level and the District 7 Tournament has also been cancelled. Out of the 14 programs affiliated with District 7, KLL is the only one that hasn’t yet canceled their regular season.

If KLL does elect to have a shortened season, the plan would be to only have Tee-Ball, Double-A and Triple-A options available. According to Siegel, KLL’s Majors and Juniors squads wouldn’t have any teams to play since all the other District 7 programs cancelled their respective seasons.

“Our older kids wouldn’t have anyone to play against unless we traveled up to Portland, but it looks like they won’t be reopening soon,” Siegel said. “However, we do have enough kids at the younger levels to play interleague games.”

Siegel also said that, even as a best-case scenario, the younger teams still wouldn’t be able to start playing games until the third week of June. 

Siegel is in his first year at the KLL President after taking over for Brad Arnsmeier. What looked to be like a promising first season at the helm of KLL has turned into a trial by fire.

“We were so excited coming into this year. Our registration numbers were up and we had a great set up to rent out the facility to an outside user group. Then, it was like a huge truck hit us,” Siegel said. “The most stressful part is not knowing what’s coming next and trying to keep parents informed when I don’t even have any new information.”

However, KLL plans to put a greater emphasis on fall baseball this year if teams are able to play. Siegel is hoping to turn the fall season into what the spring season would have been. There won’t be tournament play, but the plan is to have most of their games on weekends.

“We’re hoping to start in the latter part of August. There have been several leagues that have been showing interest,” Siegel said.

But even if KLL gets the go-ahead on their fall baseball plan from the Gov. Brown, one thing that could greatly affect their numbers is kids playing their normal fall sports, like football, soccer or volleyball.

“It’s obviously going to look different, especially because we could lose a lot of kids to other sports. No matter how you look at it, it’s stressful,” Siegel said. 

In the meantime, Siegel wants to let people know that the KLL facility is open for use as long as social distancing guidelines are followed and that many of the fields are still in good condition.

“I would just tell kids to hang in there. We’re doing everything we can to get a season in place. I know it’s been tough, but there are still things kids can do to improve their game either at home or at our facilities,” Siegel said.