“It’s been a horrible time for us.”

Unfortunately, those words are not surprising in the baseball world these days. Major League Baseball is stumbling its way to a shortened season, and Minor League Baseball must cancel its regular season slates altogether. The words ring especially true for David DelBello, owner and president of the Florence Y’alls, an independent baseball team not affiliated with Major League Baseball or its feeder teams.

As a team that just rebranded in January from the Florence Freedom, the organization was hoping the rebrand (which included a fresh color scheme, uniforms and merchandise) would spark renewed interest in local baseball. Instead, the pandemic shuttered the 2020 Frontier League season putting the franchise under unforeseeable stress.

But on the heels of Governor Andy Beshear announcing outdoor venues may open at 50% capacity, Florence quickly released The Battle of the Bourbon Trail with the goal of sliding safely into a seven-week baseball venture. Starting July 31, both the Florence Y’alls and Lexington Legends will form two teams to compete against each other.

“There was a myriad of factors we considered including CDC and state guidelines,” says DelBello. “We are trying to make sure everyone is as safe as possible. I think we’ll only get to 40% capacity once we ensure everyone is socially distanced, and that’s OK.”

Players will need to comply with safety measures as well. Players will drive themselves to games and must be tested for COVID-19 to tryout and continue participating.

Demand from players and fans alike for baseball is extremely high. The world of professional baseball is ultra-competitive and not playing could stagnant the growth of players’ skills, while live games can provide a little bit of normalcy to the fan looking for a break, DelBello explains.

“For those who can come, it’s an opportunity to get out of the house, bring your kids and watch a baseball game,” he says.