The field for the 2020 National Baseball Congress World Series was released Tuesday with a surprising late addition from a storied franchise in California.
The Santa Barbara Foresters, winners of seven NBC World Series titles since 2006, have decided to participate and headline a 13-team field that will make up the annual double-elimination baseball tournament played next week at Eck Stadium on Wichita State's campus and Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson.
While announcing the field was another step in the right direction for the tournament to be played, tournament director Kevin Jenks acknowledged last week that the fate of this year's event is day-to-day depending on developments around the coronavirus pandemic -- especially with three teams coming from Texas, two from Colorado and one each from California and Mississippi.
"Every day is a new and different day," Jenks said. "We understand that what we announce (Friday) could change (Saturday) or next week. We're prepared. The goal is for us to play."
For now, the field has a strong taste of local flavor with the Cheney Diamond Dawgs, Hutchinson Monarchs, Rose Hill Sluggers, Liberal Bee Jays and Hays Larks all in the mix.
Along with the Foresters, who received one of three first-round byes and are scheduled to play their first game at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Eck Stadium, the Monarchs and Diamond Dawgs also received a bye in the first round.
Teams will alternate between playing in Hutchinson and at Eck Monday through Thursday, while the final four days of the tournament will be at WSU.
The tourney field, which normally features over 30 teams, does not include the defending champion Seattle Studs, who were unable to compete because of the pandemic.
"We've always said that we're going to play the NBC World Series until we can't," Jenks said. "The reason behind that is because there's a lot of admiration we have for our teams that have been able to fight and make it happen this year. Another reason is we're still a strong community event. We just want to forge forward."
Health guidelines will play a major role in determining whether the tournament can actually take place. Fans will be required to wear masks and sanitize their hands upon arrival, while social-distancing practices will also be required in the stands.
Jenks said every other row will be blocked off at Eck Stadium, with each group of people sitting at least six feet away from the next. Staff will direct foot traffic at restrooms, allowing only two people inside at the same time.
"A lot of that stuff probably seems minor, but we want our fans to feel comfortable in being there," Jenks said last week. "We don't want a situation where someone is uncomfortable and doesn't come back the next day."
As for coronavirus testing, Jenks said that if someone on a team tests positive, he will be placed in quarantine and the rest of the team will also be tested. If two or more players on a team test positive, Jenks said, that team will be removed from the tournament.
NBC World Series Schedule
Monday, August 3
3 p.m., Hutchinson -- Colorado Cyclones vs. Hattiesburg, Miss. Black Sox (Game 5)
6 p.m., Hutchinson -- Rose Hill Sluggers vs. Denver Cougars (Game 1)
6 p.m., WSU -- Hays Larks vs. Kansas City All-Stars (Game 4)
8:30 p.m., Hutchinson -- Liberal Bee Jays vs. Houston Express (Game 2)
8:30 p.m., WSU -- Lonestar (Texas) Baseball Club vs. Houston MVP Prospects (Game 3)
Tuesday, August 4
3 p.m., Hutchinson -- Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4 (Game 10)
6 p.m., Hutchinson -- Winner of Game 2 vs. Hutchinson Monarchs (Game 7)
6 p.m., WSU -- Winner of Game 5 vs. Cheney Diamond Dawgs (Game 8)
8:30, Hutchinson -- Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 (Game 9)
8:30, WSU -- Santa Barbara, Calif. Foresters vs. Winner of Game 1 (Game 6)
Wednesday, August 5
TBD, WSU -- Loser of Game 5 vs. Loser of Game 6 (Game 11)
TBD, Hutchinson -- Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 8 (Game 12)
TBD, WSU -- Loser of Game 2 vs. Loser of Game 9 (Game 13)
TBD, Hutchinson -- Loser of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 10 (Game 14)
Thursday, August 6
TBD, WSU -- Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 7 (Game 15)
TBD, WSU -- Winner of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 8 (Game 16)
TBD, Hutchinson -- Winner of Game 14 vs. Winner of Game 11 (Game 17)
TBD, Hutchinson -- Winner of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 13 (Game 18)
Friday, August 7
TBD, WSU -- Loser of Game 19 vs. Winner of Game 17 (Game 19)
TBD, WSU -- Loser of Game 15 vs. Winner of Game 18 (Game 20)
Saturday, August 8
TBD, WSU -- Winner of Game 15 vs. Winner of Game 16 (Game 21)
TBD, WSU -- Winner of Game 19 vs. Winner of Game 20 (Game 22)
Sunday, August 9
6 p.m., WSU -- Loser of Game 21 vs. Winner of Game 22 (Game 23)
Monday, August 10
6 p.m., WSU -- Winner of Game 21 vs. Winner of Game 23 (Game 24)
8:30 p.m., WSU -- If undefeated team loses Game 24