PONY baseball has canceled its winter season, and Little League remains on hiatus a little longer as well.
Fortunately for youngsters, Kaha Wong’s Wood Bat Academy will fill the void with a league starting Dec. 5 in Hilo with four divisions.
The Wood Bat league completed its regular season over the weekend and normally goes into hibernation.
“I wanted to give the kids something to do,” said Wong, who added he planned an interisland showcase in February.
Hilo, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai will compete Feb. 11-13 at Wong Stadium, pending COVID-19 restrictions.
In these pandemic times, the Wood Bat league has been extra careful, maintain social distancing, wearing masks, sterilizing equipment, and temperature checks.
“Someone who has really helped us out is Dean Goya (maintenance supervisor). They shoot everything down after every game. They help keep the kids safe,” Wong said.
The games have a maximum capacity of 100 people, but Wong prefers only 50 to be extra safe.
The Wood Bat league is already a hit, according to Cheri Atkins, a league administrator.
“Normally, we don’t do it, but Kaha didn’t want the kids to have nothing to do,” she said. “We started to run a winter league.
“We got 200 kids already signed up. We’ll have four teams in each division (varsity, JV, intermediate, elementary).”
The Wood Bat league is also helping one of its own, Austin Momohara, a 12-year-old who is battling a brain cancer.
The league will donate a portion of players’ registration fees to his family
“We’re doing whatever we can to help out the family,” Atkins said.
He had surgery Oct. 18 at Kapiolani Medical Center on Oahu.
His GoFundMe page can be found online at bit.ly/GoFund/Austin.
Last year, Hilo Pony captured its first Pony-13 World Series title in Whittier, Calif.
Pony baseball will restart its season in March, pending county rules.
Little League will hold its draft in December and start league play at the end of January, said league administrator Marcele Moses.
For more information on Wong’s league, contact BIwoodbatacademy@gmail.com.