Post 354 ready for baseball's return
The long-awaited American Legion baseball season begins on Thursday in Nebraska. Post 354 (Malcolm) is among the teams scheduled to play when games finally return. Catcher Rick Nickel says the team is calling the condensed season 'COVID baseball.'
"Its definitely weird but the memory that 2020 was a really weird season is going to be stuck in our minds forever," Nickel said.
Baseball games have been cancelled and postponed during the pandemic, dating back to mid-March. The 2020 NSAA season never started, in which many Post 354 players would've been on the Branched Oak varsity roster. Thursday's game at Ashland will mark the first baseball game in 11 months for most Malcolm players.
"I'm really excited," Brett Thieman said. "These guys put in so much off-season work. If it would've all gone to waste, it would've been heartbreaking for us."
The American Legion season in Nebraska will not include State or Area tournaments. Instead, teams are playing regular season games only. Post 354 will play approximately 20 games with half of them coming on their home field.
"Attitudes (and) enthusiasm has been really good since we started," Post 354 head coach Doug Churchwell said.
Malcolm was allowed to resume practice on June 1st when Governor Pete Ricketts relaxed restrictions for non-contact sports. Since then, Post 354 has practiced almost daily to get players ready for the abbreviated season.