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Seniors could get eligibility to play another year

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HARTINGTON — COVID-19 has done plenty of damage across the world so far in 2020.

It affected all walks of life including baseball in small town Nebraska and especially the American Legion circuit this summer.

The seasons ultimately got off the ground, but not before plenty of games were wiped out, post-season was eliminated, and a shortened campaign was the rule of the day.

Still, Hartington American Legion teams managed to see some advancement in play, including the Senior team, but for head coach Don Whitmire, the older players’ chance for one final go was not enough.

The American Legion is considering the possibility of granting the older players one additional summer of play in 2021 instead of just graduating out, according to Whitmire.

“I know there is a petition to allow one more season,” Whitmire said. “I can only speak on behalf of Class C, but I don’t think there is much downside from this considering the fact that we usually always have enough room on our roster size, I would be in favor of this,” Whitmire said. “I can see how some towns might run into issues with roster limitations. We could run into this from time to time, currently we would have no issues with roster size, especially if they were to allow roster expansion up to 24 like they did for this past year.”

Whitmire was also acknowledged the disappointment of not being able to play a full slate, including a state tournament this summer.

Sure, a spot in the ultimate final bracket wasn’t a sure thing, but the team would have liked to have had the opportunity to try.

“I know that every graduating senior on my roster is hoping for an additional year, many of them work their entire lives in order to play for a state championship,” Whitmire said. “This is the case for all my graduating seniors, they live, breathe and eat baseball and this year has been tough considering they came off last year’s season in which we made the state tournament.”

Whitmire said that the leadership the young men would bring to his program would be invaluable even if it could lead to roster congestion.

“This year and next we only had eight seniors on the roster,” Whitmire said. “We relied heavily on some of our firstyear juniors. Their leadership will help us continue to grow as a team and program.

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