PENDER – Following last week’s announcement of Nebraska American Legion baseball area and state tournaments being cancelled for the summer, a northeast Nebraska Class C Juniors State host will be ready for 2021.
The Department Athletic Committee recommends that all Nebraska American Legion Baseball teams continue to suspend all baseball activities including team meetings, tryouts, practices and more.
Pender was scheduled to host Class C Juniors State this summer. Coaches for Pender Post 55 are Clay Haymart, Ron Williams, Waylon Carlson and Benny Oliver.
This summer would have been the 10th year for Clay Haymart coaching legion baseball and he is the current head coach of the Senior team. Coach Haymart said it was a difficult conversation to have with both teams but especially the Senior group who have made it to state three straight years.
“The last year players, this year, the worst they’ve finished at the state tournament has been third,” said Haymart. “To not get an opportunity to try and win one this year; it hurts.”
The Pender Post 55 Srs placed runner-up in the 2019 Class C American Legion State Tournament hosted by Syracuse. Dannebrog-Cairo-Boelus (DCB) was crowned champion.
The Pender Seniors defeated Wisner-Pilger/Howells-Dodge, Hooper-Scribner in the semis and then again in the championship game during the C2 Senior Area Tourney from Wisner.
In 2018, both Pender Juniors and Seniors placed runner-up while the 2017 Pender Juniors finished third at state.
Last year, the Pender Jrs finished 22-8 while the Seniors ended 24-8. Between the two programs, they’ve combined for nine runner-up finishes at state.
Following last spring’s flooding, an engineering firm came in and Pender found out the press box and overhang weren’t structurally sound at the David Nitzschke Memorial Baseball Field.
Coach Haymart added the City of Pender and a group of people put about $100,000 into the field with upgrades including rebuilding the overhang where fans sit and a brand-new press box that is about double the size from before.
“It’s really impressive when you’re standing on the field looking over it,” Haymart added. “We completely re-did the infield, we got a new mound, a new home plate, we re-sloped everything, we sodded and we poured some concrete around just to make things a little bit easier for people throwing bullpen and just maintenance wise.”
Pender Post 55 baseball is just waiting to hear back about a grant to put up new lights.
Last summer’s Class C Junior Legion state champion was PWG who defeated Syracuse in Plymouth, Nebraska as Tri-County was the host.
Pender Post 55 Juniors were eliminated by Hooper-Scribner in the C2 Junior Area Tourney in which Tekamah-Herman ended up winning from Scribner.
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.
“I think we’re right now looking at just playing just our Ralph Bishop League schedule,” said Haymart. “To see if we can get that fit in or not. It really just depends on what Governor Ricketts decides to see if we can open back up and go back to semi-normal or not.”
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.
Haymart is also the coach for the Thurston-Cuming spring baseball team.
“We were going to be young,” Haymart mentioned. “I was really looking forward to this year to just get a lot of experience. A lot of time in for the younger kids. We probably would have started two or three freshmen, a bunch of new pitchers.”
The Class B Senior legion host will be Bennington in 2021. Area hosts will be Fairbury (Area 1), Plattsmouth (Area 2), West Point (Area 3), Wahoo (Area 4), Wayne (Area 5) Minden (Area 6) and Alliance (Area 7).
Class B Juniors state will be hosted by Waverly 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).
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). Again, with Pender hosting the 2021 Junior State Tournament.
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.