Late Wednesday evening, the Hastings Sodbusters announced that there will be a baseball season in 2020.
In a press release, Scott Galusha, co-owner of the team along with Bryan Frew, said the Sodbusters will open their season on June 26. Hastings will be one of six teams in the Expedition League this season, as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has forced four teams in the league to forgo their 2020 seasons.
“We can now be that important part of the healing process,” Galusha said. “We have an amazing fan base, and a loyal and committed group of partners that are instrumental in making Sodbuster baseball successful. We all can’t wait to watch some baseball. We are and will continue to monitor COVID-19 as we work with the state and city health departments to maintain safety and social distance recommendations to give us all the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of baseball.”
In conjunction, the Expedition League office released a statement outlining the structure of the adjusted 2020 season. The six teams in the league will play 52 games, with the regular season coming to an end Aug. 19. The teams will still be split into the Lewis and Clark divisions, with the division winners facing each other for the league championship series, which will be Aug. 21-23.
This year’s all-star event was originally scheduled for July 20-21 in Casper, Wyo., but that will be pushed back to 2021, as the Casper Horseheads — along with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Sunfish, Spearfish (S.D.) Sasquatch, and Wheat City Whiskey Jacks (Manitoba, CA) — will not be competing this year. The teams left for competition this season are the Sodbusters, Badlands Big Sticks (N.D.), Fremont Moo, Pierre Trappers (S.D.), Souris Valley Sabre Dogs (N.D.), and Western Nebraska Pioneers.
“We’re thrilled to once again have our outstanding brand of baseball and fun in the six great communities where Expedition League baseball will be played this summer,” Expedition League President Steve Wagner said in a release. “Our amazing fans and communities have patiently waited for our teams to begin play as we have navigated the uncharted waters of the COVID virus. We have worked closely with state, county, and local officials on readiness plans, which will allow us to play our season safely and in compliance with all guidelines.”
Galusha added in his release that the organization spent a lot of time reaching out to officials and fans for input on how the season should progress. He said there could be some changes early on, but the team is committed to making the experience as enjoyable as possible while still maintaining a healthy atmosphere.
“We will have limited crowds, but want to pack the house as much as we can,” he said. “Your support is needed to make this the best season we possibly can. Our roster is tremendous and I feel we will compete at the highest level. A blend of local athletes, familiar names, and a great cast of players from across the country will make it possible. These young men are great players, will represent us well and be positive members of our community.”
He added: “The safety of our fans, players, host families, employees, interns and umpires is vitally important to us as we work together with our state and local governments.”
The Sodbusters will release their schedule in the near future.