The Abilene Rebels 16-18 year-olds Senior Babe Ruth League baseball team will open the 2019 season on the road this tonight, May 29.
The Rebels will play at Hillsboro, a team who they swept in both regular season double-headers and defeated in the opening game of the district tournament last season. But this is almost entirely different Rebels team from last year.
After returning their entire roster last season, and going 24-5 with a fourth place finish in the Babe Ruth State Tournament, the Rebels only have three returning players on this year’s roster.
Billy Hansen, who enters his 19th season as head coach of the Rebels with a 290-159 career record, is optimistic, but excited, about this season.
“We are following in the footsteps of our high school team in that we will be a much younger and inexperienced team this season. We’ve been pretty good for three seasons in a row, mainly because of all of the returning players, but we do have a good core group of players with experience on the varsity level of our Abilene High School team,” said Hansen. “There are a couple of players who we were planning on having back from last year’s team who decided recently not to play this summer, and a new player to our team, who would have had a lot of playing time, had an emergency appendectomy just a few days ago. So we’re facing a little adversity right out of the gate.
“Our total numbers are down a bit, but we have a lot of talent on our roster too, with a bunch of new faces. Pitching is a bit of concern for me, because we lost a lot from last year’s team, but we do have quite a few guys who can pitch-and hopefully provide us with some quality innings. It’s going to be an interesting season, but we’ll win some games, and hopefully get some kids some quality field time, some experience, and we’ll have some fun,” Hansen continued.
The Rebel’s season ended last year again with a good post-season run. They were the District Four champions and advanced to the state tournament in Liberal. At the state tournament, they won their first two games in pool play over Grant County (Ulysses) and Independence before losing a tough game to Liberal and, eventual state champion, Parsons. The Rebels were still one of only four teams left heading into bracket play. They again faced Liberal, but lost a 2-0 heart-breaker in the semi-final, falling a game short of the championship game.
“We have a packed regular-season schedule, especially in June which includes two tournaments, and hopefully we can stay healthy and get ready for a post-season push,” said Hansen.
“I truly believe that this year’s team could make it back to the Babe Ruth State Tournament again. We qualified in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 2016 and 2017, and then got back there in 2018. We play in the largest district in the state, and they usually will take two teams to state from our district. I think we could be one of those top two teams, but we will have a bull’s-eye on our back. It sure would be neat to make it to the state tournament four years in a row.”
All of the home games for the Abilene Rebels are played at Ted Power Field in Abilene. There is no admission charge to attend the home games.
2019 Abilene Rebels Schedule
May 29 at Hillsboro 6p.m. & 8 p.m.
May 30 vs. Salina 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
June 1 ABC Alumni Game 2:30 p.m.
June 4 at Hesston 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
June 7-9 at Salina Tournament
June 11 vs. Junction City 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
June 14 vs. Hillsboro 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
June 17 at Salina 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
June 18 vs. Hesston 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
June 22 -23 at Junction City Tournament
June 27 at Hays 5 p.m. & 7 p.m.
July 1 vs. Lyons 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.
July 5-8 at Babe Ruth District Tournament
July 10-14 at Babe Ruth State Tournament
July 17-21 at Babe Ruth Midwest Plains
August 2 – 9 Babe Ruth World Series - TBD
Home Games at Ted Power Field
Head coach: Billy Hansen