As if that’s not enough to incite excitement in local fans, there is plenty of action slated to hit the baseball diamonds in Central Florida this summer.
Going head-to-head at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium to open the sixth season of the FCSL on Tuesday, June 2 at 7 p.m. are the Sanford River Rats, with former FCSL Coach of the Year Derek Wolfe leading the charge, against the 2008 FCSL Champions from Clermont.
But that’s just the start of a two-month journey, which includes the annual all-star game, featuring scout day and the home run derby on Wednesday, July 15, as well as a three-game slate for the River Rats at The Villages against DeLand, Leesburg and Clermont from June 23-25.
The reigning FCSL champion Clermont Mavericks play in front of their home crowd for the first time since winning it all last August on Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m. against Winter Park at East Ridge High School.
Yet even with that celebration scheduled to take place, the opening week of the season has several other intriguing subplots such as the renewal of the Lake County Rivalry when Clermont travels to Leesburg on Friday, June 5 at 7 p.m.
Two days earlier former Cy Young Award and World Series winner Frank Viola leads Leesburg from the dugout at Pat Thomas Stadium in the home opener for the Lightning on Wednesday, June 3 at 7 p.m. against the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
The Diamond Dawgs won’t play their first game of the season on their home turf at Rollins College until World Series winner and Team USA manager Davey Johnson brings the DeLand Suns to town on Saturday, June 6 at 7 p.m.
The Suns make their first visit to Sanford’s historic stadium on Wednesday, June 3 at 7 p.m. as a prelude to a highly anticipated matchup the following night. That’s when Johnson and the Suns host Viola and the Lightning in DeLand’s home opener at their new stadium at Stetson University on Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m.
Of the 11 meetings between Johnson’s Suns and Viola’s Lightning there may be only one that is more anticipated than the first, and that’s the 4th of July matchup in Leesburg at 6 p.m. The other Independence Day game pits Winter Park at Clermont at 7 p.m.
The season concludes with the start of a best-of-three playoff series Saturday, Aug. 1 followed by the championship game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, on Monday, Aug. 3.
Because the Florida Collegiate Summer League continues to upgrade the quality of its coaches and venues each year, three of the five teams in the not-for-profit league will begin charging a minimal fee for admittance to games in 2009.
Games at Sanford, Winter Park and DeLand will remain affordable for all families, as tickets will run $5 per contest in order to assist with operating expenses that reach close to $100,000 for each franchise.
Like the quality minor league entertainment that the FCSL has proven to be over the years, the league’s games remain reasonably priced for all types of sports fans. Cost of admission in Leesburg and Clermont will remain free of charge. Each team will play a 44-game regular season schedule with 22 matchups at home and 22 on the road.
FCSL ON FACEBOOK
Stay connected with the FCSL by joining the newly formed Florida Collegiate Summer League “page” on Facebook (www.facebook.com), where current and former players join fans to stay up-to-date on league happenings.
ABOUT THE FCSL
The Florida Collegiate Summer League (www.floridaleague.com) is a Wood Bat Baseball League with five teams currently in Central Florida.
FCSL was founded in November 2003 to provide a place in Florida for college players to play pure wood bat baseball against top-level competition, in a festive community environment.
FCSL is one of eight leagues affiliated with the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB) - an alliance of college summer wood bat leagues, which operate following NCAA legislation.
FCSL is partially financially funded by Major League Baseball (MLB). As a non-profit, 501c3 corporation, FCSL mostly depends on donations from individuals, businesses and foundations in the teams’ communities.