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Duncan Field to host Expedition League all-star game

By Dale Miller
 Sep 5, 2017 Updated 3 hrs ago

HASTINGS – Hastings and Duncan Field will host the inaugural Expedition League all-star game next July.

Bryan Frew, the owner/general manager/head coach of the Hastings franchise, plans on the city hosting a couple of playoff series, too.

More plans for the new team and league were revealed Tuesday during a press conference at Duncan Field. Later in the day, four choices for the team’s nickname were revealed during a social mixer — Cranes, Haymakers, Railers or Sodbusters. Fans will be able to vote on the selections through Sept. 15.

Frew is thrilled to continue to process of forming the new franchise.

“I’m very excited for this opportunity in Central Nebraska,” the Grand Island native said. “I don’t think there is anything else like it in this area.

“When I got done with my playing career and finished up college, I desired to come back to Central Nebraska because I love the communities out here. I was really passionate about the baseball and tried to get connected with baseball right away. To be able to do something like this for the community, it’s just a great honor. I’m very excited about it.”

Hastings mayor Corey Stutte said the new team will be a positive addition to the city.

“I think it’s a very positive relationship for the city of Hastings,” he said. “You’ve got the Expedition League looking to come in here to Duncan Field. We’ve got a good owner that is local and has very good experience in baseball, and we look forward to having Bryan here in Hastings, and we look forward to having the Expedition League here in Hastings.”

Expedition League president Steve Wagner gave the upgraded facilities at Duncan Field a glowing review.

“What has been done with the renovations to Duncan Field has been spectacular,” he said. “This clearly is second to none. We have some beautiful ballparks across the league and Duncan Field is, I think, either No. 1 or No. 2. I think it is the prettiest and best ballpark in the league.”

The Expedition League features collegiate players and wood bats. Its first season in 2018 will feature 10 teams with Wagner hoping the league eventually expands to 18 to 20 franchises.

Hastings will play in the league’s southern “Clark Division” along with Gering; Casper, Wyoming; Spearfish, South Dakota, and Rapid City, South Dakota.

The northern “Lewis Division” will have teams in Brandon, Manitoba; Minot, North Dakota; Dickinson, North Dakota; Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Pierre, South Dakota.

The season will begin May 25 and run through Aug. 10. The all-star game will be held sometime in July and will include other festivities, including a home run derby – which could be a unique challenge for players considering Duncan Field’s lengthy dimensions.

Teams will play 64 regular-season games with 32 home and 32 away. Hastings will have one home and one away series against teams in the Lewis Division and will see teams in its own division more often.

There will be divisional winners for the first half and second half of the regular seasons. Those winners meet up in best-of-3 series with the Lewis and Clark playoff winners then advancing to a best-of-3 championship round.

Frew said he is determined to make sure that Hastings is part of the postseason.

Rosters will likely be set at 26 players, Wagner said. With 14 pitchers, there won’t be concerns about overusing arms while 12 position players will allow those members of teams to get regular playing time.

Frew is already working towards getting players for his first roster. He has contacted Nebraska, Creighton, Nebraska-Omaha, Nebraska-Kearney, Hastings College, Texas A&M, Northern Colorado and schools in Kansas.

“I’ve been in contact with a lot of coaches from the region and all over the country as well using some of my contacts,” Frew said. “We have a great contact in the league office if we want to branch out a little farther. The process has started. We don’t have anybody signed yet, but it’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks.”

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Kody Bybee