EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Highland Challenger Baseball League returned to the diamond on Saturday following a one-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two years ago, the league celebrated its fifth anniversary season. When that spring season ended in 2019, league officials had no idea they wouldn’t see the field again until this weekend.
Like so many other sports, the pandemic forced the cancellation of all of the Highland Challenger League’s sessions last year.
On Sunday, the league made its triumphant return to the field.
The Highland Challenger League helps children with disabilities to play baseball.
So after a one-year hiatus, Saturday was a very special day for everyone involved.
“The children - they’re our most important asset,” Highland Challenger League Baseball President Matt Pokorney said. “They’re important to us and their safety is paramount, so last year we weren’t able to play. This year, we’ve taken a lot of extra precautions. Taking a year off - the kids have grown, so some of them I didn’t recognize because they’ve grown six inches, but their smiles didn’t change. Their smiles didn’t change, the excitement was there. The good part about that is they were ready to play baseball. The fans were excited, the kids were excited, the parents were excited.”
14 News spoke with Killian Watson, who’s blind and beginning his fourth season playing in the league.
“I’m very excited to play baseball again,” Watson said. “I missed it a lot since we haven’t been playing for a very long time, and I had fun playing it ever since we started playing it.”
“Killian looks forward to these games all the time, and not to have these games last year was very tough,” Todd Ringle, Watson’s grandfather said. “You know, we went to the World Series a couple of years ago and had a blast. This league is very, very special. These kids love every second of the Challenger League, so we’re very excited that once again. We are out here playing with all the kids.”
The Highland Challenger League is taking extra measures this season to ensure everyone’s safety. The league’s spring season will play on most Sundays, all the way through June 27.