Three months after the sports world was halted because of the coronavirus, baseball will return to Moscow.

The Moscow Blue Devils, a senior American Legion baseball team, will open the season at 1 p.m. June 13 with a doubleheader against the Orofino Merchants at Bear Field at Moscow Middle School.

After much speculation on whether there would even be a season — and summer cancellations from rival programs, like in Pullman and Lewiston — the Blue Devils are excited to finally be on the field.

The team started practice Monday and will have about two weeks of work on the diamond by the time the first pitch is thrown.

“It’s great to see the kids smile,” fourth-year Moscow coach Stan Mattoon said. “They’re happy to be on a field, they’re happy the sun is shining and they get to play ball.”

Moscow’s junior Legion team will play its first game the next day, June 14, at the Moscow Community Playfields against the Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen 14U team.

“It’s a fun group. They’re coming to work,” said Casey Anderson, the second-year junior Legion coach. “There’s no screwing off or any of that. It’s like they had something ripped away from them and now they enjoy it even more.”

The senior Blue Devils have 13 doubleheaders on their schedule, as well as tournaments in Montana and Coeur d’Alene.

Details for the state tournament at the end of the season still are being worked out, but the top two teams from the Blue Devils’ north Idaho league — called Idaho Area A — will advance to the state tournament July 27. The junior Blue Devils have a similar schedule.

The biggest changes this season involve a series of COVID-19 protocols teams must follow during practice and games. Mattoon said Legion organizations are taking cues from the Idaho Department of Health.

All players have their temperature checked and hands sanitized at the start of practice.

And the team isn’t using the dugouts during practice. Instead, coaches use baseballs to mark space 6 feet apart along the right-field backdrop where players put their bags.

“Every practice we have what’s called the ‘COVID guy,’ ” Mattoon said. “We have coaches rotate and they’re responsible that day for ... cleaning gear and wiping down equipment to make sure it stays within the guidelines we’ve set.”

Mattoon said the dugouts will be used during games, but players who are not playing at a certain time can sit in chairs outside the dugout to provide more spacing.

Mattoon said there haven’t been any complaints as players get used to the new normal.

“So far it’s working great and the kids have accepted it and they’re working with it, and that’s kind of what we need,” he said.

The Blue Devils’ schedule looks similar to years past. It includes games against Orofino, Camas Prairie, Spokane, Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, Northern Lakes (Rathdrum) and a new addition this year, Silver Valley (Osburn). Absent are Lewiston and St. Maries, which also decided against fielding a team.

Teams will play about three doubleheaders per week through June and July.

“We’re not taking anybody lightly,” Mattoon said. “We’re working really hard on our fundamentals and doing what we need to do to get ready for these guys.”

Said Anderson, “I think they’ll all be tough because we’re battling for the same thing.”

Stephan Wiebe can be reached at swiebe@dnews.com, by phone at (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter @StephanSports.

Moscow Blue Devils 2020 senior team schedule

All home games at Moscow Bear Field unless indicated

June 13 — Orofino (2), 1 p.m.

June 16 — Camas Prairie (2), 5 p.m.

June 18 — Big Bucks Tournament*

June 19 — Big Bucks Tournament*

June 20 — Big Bucks Tournament*

June 21 — Big Bucks Tournament*

June 23 — Spokane (2), 4 p.m.

June 25 — Silver Valley (2), 4 p.m.

June 27 — at Sandpoint (2), 1 p.m.

June 30 — Northern Lakes (2), 4 p.m.

July 2 — Sandpoint (2), 1 p.m.@

July 4 — at Camas Prairie (2), 1 p.m.

July 5 — at Orofino (2), 1 p.m.

July 10 — Coeur d’Alene Tournament

July 11 — Coeur d’Alene Tournament

July 12 — Coeur d’Alene Tournament

July 15 — at Northern Lakes (2), 3 p.m.

July 17 — at Coeur d’Alene (2), 5 p.m.

July 19 — at Silver Valley (2), 1 p.m.

July 22 — Coeur d’Alene (2), 4 p.m.

July 27 — State tournament+

July 28 — State tournament+

July 29 — State tournament+

July 30 — State tournament+

July 31 — State tournament+

Aug. 1 — State tournament+

* — at Libby, Mont.

@ — at Moscow Community Playfield

+ — site TBD

Moscow Blue Devils 2020 junior team schedule

All home games at Moscow Bear Field unless indicated

June 14 — Coeur d’Alene 14U (2), noon*

June 17 — Sandpoint 16U (2), 5 p.m.

June 22 — Sandpoint 14U (2), 5 p.m.

June 25 — Ed Gallo Wood Bat Tourney@

June 26 — Ed Gallo Wood Bat Tourney@

June 27 — Ed Gallo Wood Bat Tourney@

June 28 — Ed Gallo Wood Bat Tourney@

July 1 — at Coeur d’Alene 14U (2), TBD

July 4 — at Sandpoint 16U (2), 1 p.m.

July 7 — Iron Pigs, 5 p.m.

July 11 — at Sandpoint 14U (2), 1 p.m.

July 15 — Camas Prairie (2), 5 p.m.

July 17 — Coeur d’Alene Tournament

July 18 — Coeur d’Alene Tournament

July 19 — Coeur d’Alene Tournament

July 22 — State tournament+

July 23 — State tournament+

July 24 — State tournament+

July 25 — State tournament+

* — at Moscow Community Playfield

@ — at Whitefish, Mont.

+ — site TBD

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