MISSOULA — High school baseball took a much-needed step toward a possible reality.
The Montana High School Association executive board has been appointing a committee to study the feasibility of adding high school baseball over the past few weeks, MHSA executive director Mark Beckman confirmed with MTN Sports.
The decision comes after Stevensville High School athletic director Chance Edman put forth a December request to the MHSA. The MHSA in turn sent out a survey to member schools inquiring about interest in studying the sport, which came back 83 to 43 in favor of forming the committee back in January.
The MHSA executive board has since begun to form the committee which will study the sport, with appointments beginning in recent weeks. The committee will meet in the fall and will bring the information they've gathered, along with a likely recommendation, to the board in November, which will then be brought to the MHSA annual meeting in January 2022 as a proposal if there is support from the committee.
"Our community is thrilled at yet another step toward high school baseball," Edman told MTN Sports. "People have been asking me for weeks for an update. It felt great to bring some good news this week. Personally I’ve enjoyed following the dialogue across the state and I certainly expect it to continue in the next 12 months. I truly think baseball will be a huge success and we will look back on this process as a legacy for Montana."
Beckman said the committee has not been fully formed yet to study the sport but estimated that each classification would have up to two members each plus a few more at-large representatives on the committee.
Beckman previously told MTN Sports that in the past three of four times he's seen high school baseball come up, it never made it to a committee being formed, marking this step the furthest the idea has advanced. He said there was a lot of interest in adding baseball as another option for boys in place of powerlifting, since the MHSA must offer the same amount of boys and girls sports each year.
"Schools were looking at adding girls wrestling and then we also had boys powerlifting," Beckman said. "I think there was a lot of interest from the kids saying, 'Well, I don't know about powerlifting but maybe something like baseball we'd be interested in.' So that would give the schools an option for another boys sport."
The inaugural boys powerlifting season was canceled last July due to lack of interest in participation.
Montana is one of just three states in the U.S., along with Wyoming and South Dakota, that does not offer high school baseball. American Legion Baseball has been the main option for baseball products in the state in its place.