For the second straight summer, the Hays Larks will be headed for a new league.
After a one-season stay in Kansas Collegiate League Baseball, the Larks are set to join the Rocky Mountain Baseball League in the summer of 2020.
With the addition of the Larks, the RMBL will be comprised of nine teams, with the eight other teams based in Colorado.
The Larks were left scrambling to find a new league after the end of the 2018 season when four teams exited the Jayhawk League, forcing Hays, Dodge City and Liberal to explore other options. The three teams competed in the KCLB last year, but Leo feels the RMBL will be a better fit for the Larks.
The eight other teams in the league are the Colorado Sox, Denver Cougars, Colorado Pirates, Game Day Saints, Colorado Roughriders, Boulder Collegians, Colorado Springs Renegades
and Fort Collins Foxes.
"It's something we were working on last year when the Jayhawk League dissipated with the four teams leaving Hays and Dodge and Liberal out, wondering what we were going to do," Larks manger Frank Leo said. "There was talk last year (about joining the RMBL). We were trying to get things figured out with the traveling to Denver and how they would travel. They seem to be willing to really try to make this thing work as far as every team in the league traveling to Hays, which is going to to give us good home games and good competition."
"We played several of those teams in non-league games before," Leo added. "We like the type of competition they bring."
In the Kansas Collegiate League, Leo said the Larks didn't see the night-in, night-out competition they had come accustomed to. The Larks, who were placed in a three-team division in the KCLB with Liberal and Dodge, dominated against most teams in the league outside of Liberal and Dodge last summer.
"I know just talking with some of the players that played, they're looking for better every-day type competition," Leo said. "I think (the RMBL) will provide that a little better."
The Larks will have a 32-game league schedule with at least 18 home league games. Each league team will play each other four times, two times at home and two times away.
The RMBL is affiliated with the National Baseball Congress World Series. The Denver Cougars and the Game Day Saints advanced to the NBC World Series last summer.
Leo said the Larks are looking forward to the challenge of joining a new league.
"You kind of go in not knowing what to expect," Leo said. "It's a challenge, and sometimes challenges can bring good positives and that's what we're looking forward to.
"It's been two years in a row where we try to figure things out and try to find what's going to be the best fit for the Larks going forward. We're going to give this a shot."