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LEGION BASEBALL: Area teams to play, eventually

by JASON ELLIOTT
Sports Writer | May 8, 2020 1:08 AM

They will play ball after all this summer.

The state American Legion board approved moving on with the 2020 season during a board meeting on Wednesday, opening the door for teams from Coeur d’Alene, Prairie (Post Falls area) and Northern Lakes (Rathdrum area) to begin play should they choose to do so later this summer.

“We’re very pleased with the decision,” Coeur d’Alene Legion president Mike Thompson said. “We’re looking forward to Lums baseball.”

During the meeting, the board approved the start of small group practices — less than 10 players at a time — starting on May 17 in accordance with Phase 2 of the state’s plan to reopen. Practices of 10 or more won’t begin until May 30 (Phase 3). Games can proceed on June 13 (Phase 4).

Coeur d’Alene American Legion fields five teams — class AA, class A, 16U, 14U and 13U.

Coeur d’Alene’s class AA team was scheduled to open the season at the Missoula Mavericks Memorial Day tournament, but teams are not permitted to travel out of state until June 13. Coeur d’Alene was also scheduled to participate in a tournament in Omaha, Neb., slated for June 18-22 at roughly the same time as the College World Series there, but that was canceled.

The other three programs in the four-team North Idaho League — Northern Lakes, Prairie and Lewis-Clark — were still discussing their options.

As of now, Coeur d’Alene still plans to play in a tournament in Bozeman, Mont., scheduled for June 11-13, as well as host the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Fourth of July Wood Bat Classic.

“Those will be the two tournaments that we’ll definitely do,” Coeur d’Alene AA coach Erik Karns said. “It’s possibly going to be a smaller version of the Wood Bat tournament, but we’re going to do something.”

The Class AA Area A (district) championships are scheduled for July 17-19 at Harris Field in Lewiston. The top two teams from Area A advance to the state tournament July 28 to Aug. 1 in the Boise area. State will be the end of the line, as last month the national Legion board canceled the American Legion World Series and the qualifying regional tournaments.

Also last month, Washington canceled its American Legion season. The Lums hope to schedule some travel teams in Washington, once it’s OK to travel to that state.

Karns added that fans will be allowed at games, with proper social distancing guidelines to be followed at Thorco Field.

“We’re in the process of educating our parents and what we expect them to do and the rules that have been set forth,” Karns said. “Our practices won’t look like a normal practice, but we’ve got to abide by the rules and do things the right way. But we’ve put a lot of time into this and it’s important to our community that it kind of looks the same. Baseball has always been a sport that’s been a little nostalgic for some people. The kids are excited.”