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Baseball returns to Sumter under new independent league

Sumter's American Legion baseball team joins others in a new league called the South Carolina American League.

SUMTER, S.C. — In a typical baseball season, hundreds of fans would fill the stands at Sumter’s Riley Park to cheer on the Post 15 players for another year of American Legion Baseball.

“It’s a big deal. It really is,” Bill  Lyons, the team’s athletic director, said. “It’s all over the country. Every state has American Legion baseball.”

This year the legion cancelled the season for safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Everybody misses it,” Lyons said. “NC started an independent league and they have teams playing up there, in an independent league up there, so we started one here.”

It's called the South Carolina American League and includes former American Legion teams from across the state who also wanted the chance to play.

Lyons says they're following the guidelines the governor released allowing youth sports to return.

"He put out certain guidelines like, you know, got to have the social distancing," Lyons said.

RELATED: SC cities begin requiring masks as COVID-19 cases surge

Players must also bring their own beverages and travel separately.

"We're following his guidelines right now and, if he says no, you can't do it anymore, we just have to quit, which I hope that doesn't happen," Lyons said.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, he added that it is a concern.

"I'm 78 so it's a concern for me," he said. "Hopefully everything will be back to normal next year and we'll be back to playing legion baseball."

We reached out to the legion, but they declined to comment. 

To learn more about the P-15's, visit them on Facebook.