The Eugene Challengers and Springfield Timbers announce a merger of their two organizations, forming one American Legion Baseball program in Lane County. Both Boards of Directors approved the merger in late December; the new program is the Emerald Challengers.
The Emerald Challengers will field two teams drawn from high schools across the county.
American Legion baseball teams have long been subject to high school enrollment caps to keep teams organized fairly and competitive in their respective regions. The enrollment caps required Lane County to have two separate American Legion teams, each with roughly the same size area from which to draw its teams. The Eugene Challengers drew from Eugene and west Lane County high schools and Springfield Timbers from Springfield and south and east Lane County.
In Fall 2021, the national American Legion Baseball leadership voted to increase the enrollment cap. The expanded cap opened the door for the two Lane County teams to discuss a single program’s benefits for baseball players in the area.
“By combining our organizations, we can include ball players from all over Lane County and create a stronger program,” says Dale Hartley, Emerald Challengers board president. “Rather than divvying up talent across two teams, a single Lane County team will be competitive year over year for state, regional and even national titles.”
The Emerald Challengers will field two teams – a triple-A team with participants aged 15 – 19 and a single-A or developmental team with participants aged 15 – 17. Both teams have a 40-plus game schedule from June through August.
This merger just makes sense, and it’s the right thing to do for the great game of baseball in our area.” adds Rico Lea, former President and General Manager of Springfield Timbers and new Emerald Challengers board member. “We want to create the best opportunities for our young men to play at the highest level and open doors for athletes to play the sport they love after high school.”
The Emerald Challengers AAA team hosts invite-only try-outs in late May, followed by an open-tryout for the A-team. The season begins the first week in June.
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