The Western Nebraska Pioneers announced that the team is joining the Rocky Mountain Baseball League effective immediately. The Rocky Mountain League has been in operation for more than 25 years and consists of teams in Colorado, Kansas and now Nebraska, with the addition of the Pioneers.
Following a meeting on August 28 and a vote by current RMBL members, the Pioneers were granted admission along with the Ft. Collins Foxes, bringing the league to eight members. The RMBL returns six teams; the Liberal (Kansas) Bee-Jays, Hays (Kansas) Larks, Dodge City (Kansas) A’s, Colorado (Wheat Ridge) Roughriders, Game Day Angels (Parker, CO) and Denver Cougars.
“Pioneers fans will see a lot of familiar names here, as we played all the returning RMBL teams this summer,” Pioneers owners Mayra and Chuck Heeman said. “We explored a couple league possibilities, and the RMBL looks like the right fit for us. Adding Ft. Collins helped make our decision as the Foxes will make a great travel partner and rival for us for years to come.”
The Pioneers played the 2023 season as an independent team, not in a formal league, which led to some scheduling hiccups and other challenges that also made joining the RMBL the best option.
“We know our fans grew frustrated as we got a feel for what teams we could count on as we searched for the right fit in a league – believe us, we had our frustrations as well,” the Heemans said. “Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward, and we feel we’ve done that and achieved some stability that wasn’t always there in 2023. We are already building the 2024 schedule and moving forward to another successful Pioneers season. We are signing players and our search for a Head Coach is coming to fruition, so we’re deep into the 2024 season already.”
The Rocky Mountain League plays a 28-game league schedule and each team plays approximately 54 total games, mixing in non-league teams and additional non-league games against RMBL teams. The Pioneers plan to play 54 games in 2024 with 36 at the team’s home field, Oregon Trail Park Stadium in Gering.
“The RMBL league structure is such that each team doesn’t have to play the same number of home and road games,” the Heemans said. “We found this summer that the teams that came to Gering loved the experience, and we’re more than happy to play more games at home in front of the best fans in summer baseball.”