LIHU‘E — There was no opening ceremony fanfare to mark the start of the Kaua‘i Senior Softball season.
Instead, there were seven games — 14 teams batting in three contests at Isenberg and four matches at the Hanapepe field — raising the dust as the league marked its opening in the 15-team league.
“We don’t have any opening ceremonies because of the COVID-19,” said Stephen Fujii of the Kawaihau team, coached by Hank Ibia, former coach for the Kaua‘i High baseball team.
“League play is based on health and safety rules set by the pandemic. This includes face-mask-wearing whenever possible, social distancing, no gatherings following team play — you just have to pack up and leave. I was supposed to be helping with the East Kaua‘i Lions service project, but it’s safer to be here.”
Spectator seating is also adjusted to accommodate the enlarged dugout area due to social distancing.
Joe Bertucci, Kaua‘i Senior Softball League president, trooped the field between the two dugouts armed with a clipboard and keeping an eye on teams and players ensuring they adhere to the COVID-19 rules and mandates.
“I’m the sheriff,” Bertucci said. “The players have been really good about following the rules. It’s my job to make sure they follow the rules so we can keep playing.”
The league has 15 teams, ensuring seven games each Saturday at two different fields on a rotating basis.
Teams include Barteks, ‘Ohana Rebels, Rookies, Keonimana Gents, West Kaua‘i, Solid Steel, Kuku’s Aces, Hanama‘ulu Hillsiders, EK Legends, Da Kruzers, ‘Ohana, Kawaihau, Aloha Kia Lihu‘e A’s, Islanders and Da Killas.
“I just have to play something,” said Jimmy Torio of the Islanders, who matched up against the Aloha Kia Lihu‘e A’s in the Saturday season opener. “You can’t just be stuck inside. I have to get out and do something.”
The Kaua‘i Senior Softball League is no stranger to coping with the pandemic after the COVID-19 crisis played havoc with the league’s 2020 season after arriving on Hawai‘i’s shores in March.
Stay-at-home and curfew orders chased the teams off the fields, and despite finding a window to play, a positive test corked the season, depriving the island of its hosting the state championships.
Saturday marked the start of a new season, one that is scheduled to continue until the end of July, COVID-19 permitting.
Saturday’s schedule moves to the Kaumakani and Hanama‘ulu fields, where Barteks takes on the Rookies starting at 9 a.m. at the Kaumakani field. That contest will be followed by Kuku’s Aces taking on Da Kruzers starting at 10:15 a.m. The 11:30 a.m. contest features the Keonimana Gents going up against West Kaua‘i, and the finale is at 12:45 p.m., with the EK Legends taking on Kawaihau.
At the Hanama‘ulu field, home field of the Hanama‘ulu Hillsiders, Solid Steel opens the day against the Aloha Kia Lihu‘e A’s at 9 a.m. followed by ‘Ohana taking on the Islanders in a 10:15 a.m. matchup. Da Killas close the day against the host Hanamaulu Hillsiders in the 11:30 a.m. finale. The ‘Ohana Rebels draw the bye for the week.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.