WAYNE – After the national American Legion baseball tournaments were called off, respective states have been following.
According to a release from Nebraska American Legion Baseball Wednesday, the Department of Nebraska Athletic Committee has cancelled all area and state postseason playoff tournaments but the possibility for regular season games could still be played.
The American Legion Baseball’s highest priority is the health, well-being and safety of all legion participants, families, volunteers and fans. It is the intention of the Department of Nebraska Athletic Committee to hold as much of/or any part of a playing season in Nebraska that the situation allows, and to allow the local communities and regional areas to conduct their own tournaments as they see fit based on the current restriction for that region/area.
Wendy Heikes was voted to become the president of the Wayne Baseball Association in October of 2019. She talked about what the board has been up to.
“Not a whole lot,” said Heikes. “It’s been pretty quiet on our home front. I mean we keep in contact via email but we’re just holding off to see where we’re at with the whole COVID-19 and where the governor has us at.”
Heikes also served as secretary for the association for about three years and will be holding a meeting with the Tri-County League this Sunday, April 26 to determine what the youth program will be doing for the summer.
Once Governor Ricketts allows youth sporting events to begin, the Athletic Committee will announce when the initial date of practice can start. Only at that time all registered and insured Legion teams will then be required to conduct 14 days of practice prior to their first official baseball games against another team. As of right now, sporting events cannot take place through May 31.
Past president of nine years with the Wayne Baseball Association, Steve Lutt added the team would like to make the season their state tournament if they’re allowed to play.
“This group of Seniors has established themselves as one of the best teams Wayne has had in a long, long time,” Lutt added. “I know they’d love a chance to play again together. Our Juniors team is going to be young, but there’s a lot of talent, so I know they’re anxious to get on the field as well.”
In the summer of 2018, the Wayne Post 43 Juniors were crowned Class B state champions after their remarkable run from Pawnee Park in Columbus. The team defeated Ashland (10-2), Columbus Lakeview (16-3), Hickman (4-3), Lakeview a second time (4-0) and Hickman in the finals (10-7).
High School coaches are also being recommended to contact their athletic directors to initiate the request for the waiver to participate in an amateur sport past the July 31 NSAA rule.
The Wayne Post 43 Seniors were scheduled to host the Class B Area 5 Tournament this summer. With the cancellations of postseason play, all 2020 tournament host sites will remain the same for the 2021 season.
“It’s great that they’re letting us do this putting it off for a year and giving those that put a bid in to still be able to host them in another year,” Heikes mentioned. “It’s just tough with all of this COVID-19 and it was I’m sure a hard decision for our legion to cancel all area and state games for the season.”
“Going forward next year we’re going to have a very solid senior team again and certainly, we’re looking forward to hosting area,” said Lutt. “We’ve done a lot of nice things to the ball park (Hank Overin) including new lights and we’re really hoping to show those off. Although there is disappointment, we’ll be anxious to host in 2021.
The age deadline for senior legion baseball is 18 as of December 31 of the current year (would be 2020 for the 2021 season).
Other Class B Senior legion hosts announced in January of 2020 were Fairbury (Area 1), Plattsmouth (Area 2), West Point (Area 3), Wahoo (Area 4), Minden (Area 6) and Alliance (Area 7) as the Class B Senior Legion state host is Bennington.
Class B Juniors state will be hosted by Waverly now in 2021 with area tournaments being played in Nebraska City (Area 1), Ashland (Area 2), Roncalli (Area 3), York (Area 4), Albion (Area 5), Gothenburg (Area 6) and Chadron (Area 7).
Legion officials ask that Nebraskans continue to review the guidelines, restrictions and regulations established by the local, Nebraska and federal government to ensure doing whatever is required for the safety and well-being of everyone involved.
Also, a northeast Nebraska community was scheduled to host Class C Juniors state being Pender, now in 2021. Class C Junior area hosts will be Hartington (Area 1), North Bend (Area 2), Syracuse (Area 3), Beaver Crossing (Area 4), Silver Creek (Area 5), Boelus (Area 6), and Gordon (Area 7).
Class C Senior area hosts include Pierce (Area 1), Hooper (Area 2), Pleasant Dale (Area 3), Geneva (Area 4), St. Paul (Area 5), Ravenna (Area 6) and Bridgeport (Area 7). The Seniors host, now in 2021 will be Palmer.
Class A Senior American Division was going to be hosted by Omaha Westside as National Division by Lincoln and Class A Junior State was to be held at Papillion South.
Class A Senior area tournaments: Bellevue West (Area 1), Millard West (Area 2), Papillion (Area 3), Omaha Skutt (Area 4), Lincoln (Area 5), Norfolk (Area 6) and Kearney (Area 7).
Class A Junior area tournaments: Creighton Prep (Area 1), Area 2 (TBD), Millard South (Area 3), Ralston (Area 4), Lincoln (Area 5), Fremont (Area 6) and Scottsbluff (Area 7).
Earlier in the month, Hastings was allowed to retain the Region 4 post season tournament for 2021 as Nebraska teams will then move back to compete in Region 6 in 2022 and 2023.