FLORENCE, S.C. — Derick Urquhart and his fellow American Legion baseball coaches were hoping the Department Executive Committee would reconsider its decision to cancel the 2020 season.
When that didn’t change by Friday, plans to go forward under the independent South Carolina American Summer League umbrella became more concrete.
The new league announced a series of proposed dates Saturday that encompassed everything from registration to roster deadlines to postseason play. The season opener is tentatively scheduled for June 29 with playoffs lasting from Aug. 3 to Aug. 16.
All current American Legion baseball rules and recruiting guidelines will be followed, and there will be both senior (19U) and junior (17U) divisions.
But there are still two very big hurdles that need to be cleared first for any of that to take place, Florence Post 1 coach Urquhart said.
“We still don’t know when the governor will lift the sanctions and we’re able to do it,” he said. “We’ve got to be allowed to congregate and have athletics and so forth, but also a lot of these teams that have at least expressed verbal interest (in using) high school facilities.
“So individually, they’ve got to make sure they have access through their school districts or local high schools to be able to play.”
That last condition won’t be an issue for Urquhart’s senior squad, which is fortunate to have access to Legion Field, but the potential junior teams in the Florence area are all going to have to wait for permission.
“All schools that currently have junior teams, if they want one, they can sign up,” Urquhart said. “But the junior teams are going to be a little bit more challenging because almost 100 percent of those teams do use high school facilities. So you’ll probably see some teams that aren’t able to participant due to their own school restrictions or just the unknown of how things are going to be.”
If the green light is given, all of the current senior and junior legion programs that are recognized in the state will have the right of first refusal as to whether or not to join the new league, Urquhart said.
The number of teams that already have access to fields and could be ready to go in just a few weeks is about 12, he added, with the number of teams that have interest rising to about 30 in the last few weeks.
“The end of June would be optimistic (to start), but we’re all really looking at July 6 and July — the Monday and Tuesday after the July 4th weekend — to get going,” Urquhart said. “That way teams that don’t have access to their fields until July 1 can have a couple of days to practice before official league games start up.
“That’s the timeline we’re looking at, but we wanted that flexibility to be able to start June 29 if everything was ready.”
Registration is open with May 31 serving as the deadline for all interested parties. Leagues and schedules are tentatively set to be announced on June 8 with final rosters being submitted for approval by June 24.
The regular season is set end on July 31.