There is going to be a summer with American Legion baseball.
There were questions about that when COVID-19 hit around the country, causing all baseball to be canceled in May.
But Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a few weeks ago that a plan to allow youth baseball and softball teams to begin organized practices, which can start Monday. American Legion Chairman Jody Moeller made the announcement on Twitter and the information has been posted on the Nebraska Legion Baseball website last week
Teams are allowed to start tryouts/practices Monday and can have competition starting June 18.
Home Federal coach Kirby Wells said he’s just excited that there is going to be some kind of season.
“It’s exciting for the kids,” Wells said. “Everybody’s bubble was burst when the spring sports got canceled and there was no making up for that. Now that we can have a shortened season and for the kids to get together and play is going to be beneficial. It also gives them a chance to be with their friends.”
There will be tryouts for the four Grand Island teams on Monday at Ryder Park, while following the health guidelines as far as the 6-feet social distance rule and players using their own equipment. The seniors include Home Federal Bank and U-Save Pharmacy, while the juniors include Five Points Bank and Tom Dinsdale Automotive.
Pitching rules will remain the same as last year but roster sizes will be increased from 18 to 24.
Wells said he expects there should be enough players for the four teams, which he hopes will be decided by Friday, June 5.
“With the size of Grand Island, there should always be four legion teams,” Wells said. “I want to see more kids involved. I’m anticipating 60 kids coming out from freshmen to seniors.”
Wells said they are going to get a little creative with practices. The players can’t use the dugouts during the practices. Wells said he’ll have to talk to the players about the groundrules.
“We can’t have kids stacked in one position, we’ll have to move some kids around. A few might be in the batting cage with an assistant coach, and some kids will be in the field with their stuff so we’ll have to get pretty unique with the practice schedules,” Wells said. “It will be challenging but I think we have a good plan in place.”
As far as the season goes, Wells said a schedule is set for 32-35 games where there be single games or doubleheaders, but tournaments are still in the works. There is a very good chance teams could play each other four times during the season. Lincoln and Omaha teams are not included on the schedule as of yet because of their city guidelines of leaving the city.
“That’s the amount we want to do, even though we had to build the schedule from scratch,” Wells said. “We try to play a top-notch schedule but we had to re-amp it to get everyone involved in our Cornhusker League division. We could see teams like Kearney, Columbus, Hastings, Fremont, North Platte and Norfolk probably up to four times this season.
That’s just good for the kids and good for travel, even though you might have go a long distance but I think everyone will take that since they are getting the chance to play.”
There will be no postseason this season for the legion teams. Wells said he’s OK with that as he still wants his team to perform well during the season, especially near the end. There hasn’t been a decision on whether there will be a league championship or not as of Tuesday.