ASHLAND – The Ashland American Legion baseball season was officially able to get underway on Monday as 31 Bluejay players took the field for the first time in 2020.
The Legion baseball season was put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the governor’s blessing baseball and softball fields are bustling with activity once again.
“We’re ready to go. Everyone is excited to get back onto the field and get started,” said Ashland Legion Coach Shawn Emanuel.
Emanuel said he has remained hopeful that some of the season would be able to be salvaged and has been preparing the field at Jack Anderson Ball Park for the return of baseball.
It’s a game that will look a lot different than it ever has.
America’s pastime does not get a pass when it comes to social distancing and new coronavirus guidelines.
“We have the field set up and ready to go. Our drills are going to be quick and interactive and our practice plan has been restructured so that we can follow the new guidelines and restrictions,” said Emanuel.
Emanuel has 31 players out this summer, almost three times as many as he had his first year in Ashland.
“I had 12 guys my first summer, so to have 31 guys and three teams this summer is pretty exciting,” Emanuel added.
Ashland will have three teams this summer, a senior team, a junior team and a ‘C’ team.
The schedule is still taking shape according to Emanuel, but the plan is to start the season with a doubleheader on June 18.
“We are going to play as many doubleheaders as we can. We have a couple of four-team tournaments including one in Wahoo, but most of our games will be junior-senior doubleheaders,” said Emanuel.
Legion games can be played through July 31.
Emanuel is hoping to get 15 games in for the juniors and seniors and up to 10 games for the ‘C’ team, who will play a separate schedule from the juniors and seniors
The Ashland junior team finished with a record of 14-12 last season and the seniors
finished with a record of 15-14.
“The guys are ready to play ball. We as coaches have discussed how important having a season is and we are taking the responsibility of player safety very seriously,” Emanuel added.
The State of Nebraska has already canceled all of the area tournaments and the state tournament in all classes.
In turn, the national office has also canceled the regional and national Legion postseason tournaments this summer.