BOISE — With All NCAA baseball seasons canceled this spring due to COVID-19 and some summer baseball leagues still up in the air, many college baseball players are left without spot to play for summer.
But, for the first time, any collegiate baseball player ranging from NCAA Division I to community college will have the opportunity to play summer ball in Idaho's Competitors Collegiate League.
"I'm most excited for the competition and finally getting live reps again," said pitcher, Devon Sharts. "A lot of people think that Idaho, in general, doesn't have a lot of competition when it comes to sports, but opening this collegiate league in the summer is going to show that we do have a lot of competition and that we can compete."
After moving from California, three years ago, the commissioner, Burke Mitchell, made it his goal to grow the sport of baseball. Creating this summer league is a step in the right direction, especially after moving from a state that has seven summer leagues.
"I want all Idaho kids to have an opportunity, and with Boise growing, I definitely see the sport of baseball growing with it," said Mitchell. "This league is so important because we are getting the guys innings on the mound, live reps defensively, and as many live at-bats as possible against good quality pitching."
Live reps are essential for players before heading back to college for fall ball.
"Fall is the time of year that you are gunning for spots, you have to be ready to go by then," said Sharts.
For now, the League is only accepting players from local colleges and players who are home from their colleges for summer because of the concerns with COVID-19, but next year they plan to expand.
"We originally planned for next year, but with everything going on I was like let's get it up and running this year, so we can work out the kinks and build it bigger and stronger for next year when we can start bringing in more players from out of town and build more teams," said Mitchell.
The League will have three teams this year and will play 16 to 18 games, followed by the end of the season tournament. With Minor League baseball on hold, Alex Guerrero from the Yankees organization and Brandon Van Horn, from the Giants organization are among the coaching staff.
The players range from local colleges to players from Hawaii, Washington, California and Oregon that are home for the summer.
To ensure safety for both the staff and the players, the League is limiting each team to one manager, and one pitching coordinator for all three teams.
They are also expanding dugouts to follow social distancing rules, limiting fans and dividing practices into small groups.
"Baseball in Idaho has not been the biggest thing in the past, but with a lot of kids coming up through high school and college, and Boise State opening up their baseball program, and now having this opportunity for the summer league, baseball is starting to blossom in Idaho," said Sharts. "And I'm excited for it."
The games will begin on July 6 and will be played at different fields around the Treasure Valley.