Andy Pepin - Cal Ripken

Cal Ripken League President Any Pepin is disappointed to see this year's season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (COURTESY PHOTO)

CONWAY — Say it isn’t so?

Youth baseball has long been a stable in the Mount Washington Valley with America’s favorite pastime taking place every spring into early summer. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case in 2020. MWV Cal Ripken League President Andy Pepin and the league’s board of directors made the difficult decision last week to cancel the remainder of the season.

Pepin posted the news in a letter on Facebook:

“Hello Cal Ripken Families,

“I hope that this message finds you and your family healthy and well. With so many things on-hold and up in the air, I know that you are wondering about the status of our Cal Ripken League. This communication is intended to update you on recent decisions and upcoming opportunities that our league has discussed over the past weeks. Our board of directors has spent a lot of time discussing options and trying to understand if and when guidelines for playing baseball will be in place. Much of this is still unclear but we have been in communication with various parties about options for our league, which are outlined below.

“Cal Ripken regular season: The board of directors has made the difficult decision to cancel our regular season that typically runs from the end of April to the middle of June. We discussed pushing the regular season into the summer months (July and August) but felt that it is in the best interest of the league and our participants to forego the season at this point. In our communications with those developing the guidelines and schedule for when youth baseball will be able to be played again, we have found that this schedule is still unclear.

“Obviously, this is very disappointing to us all, however, we have identified some options for players and families looking for summer baseball opportunities (below). For those who would like a refund of your registration fee, please contact Andy Pepin.

“Travel Team Baseball (U10 and U12): We intend to run our travel team programs this summer. This will not be a typical travel team summer as many leagues around the state will not be running their programs. We are hoping that once there is clarity on a summer baseball season timeline, that we will be able to participate in some tournaments around the state with other leagues that have continued with their programs. Once the guidelines for when and how summer baseball can be played, we will communicate out dates for tryouts and the schedule for the travel team season.

“New Home Run Bulldogs local summer league: With our regular season being canceled, we understand the families will be looking for opportunities for summer baseball. Given that travel ball is not for everyone, Greg Allain and the Home Run Bulldogs program will be running a local summer baseball league. This league is intended for players from around the MWV for local competition and at a similar price as Cal Ripken. Games will be played on weekdays in the valley against local competition.

“There will be three levels of play for athletes: Big League (10-12-year-olds), Minor League (7-9-year-olds) and Little Big League (younger ages). The Big League and Minor League teams will compete in a league with regular-season games anticipated to begin at the end of June (depending on state guidelines). Players will receive a hat and jersey for playing.

“Because the price of the league is the same as the Cal Ripken League, any families that have already registered and paid through Cal Ripken can opt to have this fee applied to the Bulldogs Summer League by communicating with Andy Pepin.

“To register for this league and additional information please go to tinyurl.com/y9vvxv6k.

‘KHS Baseball Spring Training Program: Many families in our league registered and participated in the Kennett High School Spring Training program for the only week it was able to be offered. Coach Josh McAllister has indicated that the program will be shifted to a summer training program later in the summer. Once the guidelines on youth sports and camps have been finalized more details will come. It is the intent to provide the remaining four hours of training for our local players before the end of the summer. Registration fees paid already will be honored. Additional registrations will be welcome. If you have any questions, please contact Josh McAllister at mcalliserKHS@gmail.com.

“Thank you all for your patience while we have tried to identify how our league and baseball, in general, will move forward during this pandemic. We are extremely disappointed that our regular season will not be held as planned, but we fully expect that the MWV Cal Ripken League will be back and strong in 2021. Please take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented for your players during the summer season.”

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