With temperatures expecting to hover around triple digits throughout the rest of the week and weekend, the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene American Legion Wood Bat Classic has adjusted its schedule from a four-day tournament starting on Thursday to a three-day tournament beginning on Friday.
On top of the worries for players and fans, umpires working the tournament follow Washington Interscholastic Activities Association guidelines, which cancel sporting events when temperatures reach 103 degrees.
The classic was at a risk to be canceled, but organizer Alex Schuerman said that after the 2020 cancellation, that option was far down the list because all the teams were signed up and ready to play.
Instead, organizers canceled the first day to play on the cooler days, according to the forecast.
Schuerman was unsure in February if the tournament would happen, but by mid-April, it was clear the green light would be given and they “put the pedal to the metal” to organize the event in a shorter length of time than usual.
He is thrilled to get back to work to prep for the classic and for spectators to take in the event.
“Yeah, it was refreshing (to be back),” Schuerman said. “It felt like business as usual the way we kind of just picked back up where we left off. And we just went at it. And that was good.”
Even with the late start to planning, the event still fielded 41 teams, 23 less than in 2019.
A large reason for the lack of teams has to do with the travel ban still in effect in Canada.
Usually, the classic gets at least 12 teams from the neighbors to the north, but not this year.
“They love this tournament,” Schuerman said.
“And they didn’t come down this year with all the travel restrictions they’ve had.”
The tournament casts a wide net over the entire West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii.
The teams are split into a junior and senior divisions. Schuerman lets teams choose in which division they want to compete, but generally, the rules are junior teams are U17 while senior are U19.
One of the Spokane Expo teams, which is 16-year-olds, decided to play up in the senior division.
“They’re all local kids. They’re a pretty talented group of 16-year-olds, but they decided to challenge themselves by playing seniors,” Schuerman said.
The senior division plays at Hart Field, Medical Lake High School, Al K. Jackson Field at Shadle Park and Thorco Field at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene.
Juniors play at Gonzaga Prep, West Valley, Mt. Spokane, Lake City and Thorco Field.
First pitch for the weekend will be at 8 a.m. Friday at every location.
Games will continue on Saturday, and semifinals are scheduled for Sunday morning at 9 and 11:30, with the championship games scheduled for 2 p.m.