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The Motor City Under-17 team will open its Maine Independent Baseball League season on Friday.
The problem is, coach Ryan Lincoln still doesn’t know where his team will be playing.
The new league founded by Scott Cournoyer of Swanville has had its share of obstacles to overcome. Heading the list is finding fields on which to play.
Virtually all high school fields in the state have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So teams in the league’s two divisions, 17-and-Under and 19-Under, have had to scramble to find a playing surface.
Motor City, composed of players from the Old Town-Orono area along with John Bapst High School in Bangor and two from Aroostook County, was hoping to play its home games at Searsport High School.
However, after Belfast officials on Tuesday said they didn’t want any teams using their field, including its own Belfast-based Midcoast team, Searsport may follow suit.
Motor City practices on the Cole Memorial Field in Kenduskeag, but it is too small to host games.
“I think the fences are only 260 feet [from home plate],” Lincoln said. “But we’re grateful to the town for letting us practice there.
“Everything is up in the air right now. If we can’t use the Searsport field, we’ll play all of our games on the road.”
Lincoln admitted that the expectation was his team likely would be playing most or all of its games on other teams’ fields.
“It’s all about getting the kids some baseball games. We’ll do what we have to do,” he said.
The Midcoast teams have been practicing on the Belfast High School softball field and were hoping to play their games at the school’s baseball field. On Tuesday, Cournoyer was notified that the field was off limits for the rest of the summer.
“It’s just another speed bump,” Cournoyer said. “We’re finding solutions. We’ll be fine.”
The teams based at Sluggers Baseball and Softball Training Facility in Brewer are competing in the 19U division. They practice at Sluggers and at Brewer High School’s Heddericg Field, but they aren’t allowed to play games there.
Instead, they will play their home games in Lincolnville.
Cournoyer said the Midcoast teams may also look into playing in Lincolnville when Sluggers isn’t playing there.
Brandon Portwine, who owns Sluggers, sponsors seven teams that play in the New England Elite Baseball League, a travel circuit for players ages 10-18.
Due to the coronavirus, that league is restricting its schedule to teams playing within their own state. Portwine said the younger age groups practice in Orland because Little League fields aren’t available in Greater Bangor.
Most of his teams have already played four games.
Cournoyer will have 18 teams in the 17U division and 10 in the 19U.
The 17-Unders will open the season on Wednesday while the 19Us begin regular-season play on July 6.
All teams will play at least 12 regular-season games through July and Cournoyer hopes they will have playoffs during the first two weeks of August.
“Maybe by then, some nice venues will open up for us,” said Cournoyer, who started his league so players who were deprived of a spring season and an American Legion season could play baseball this summer.
He isn’t worried about putting together a playoff schedule right now.
“I want to get the plane off the ground first before worrying about landing it,” he quipped.
Cournoyer said the Maine Independent Baseball League will adhere to social distancing guidelines and hopes to give the players an opportunity to “improve their skill sets and become better players.”