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Dust was barely able to collect on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ 2012 campaign before the franchise announced on Nov. 1 its brand new schedule for the 2013 season, which will mark the team’s sixth year of existence.

The Blue Crabs will be gunning for their first Atlantic League crown after coming within five outs of advancing to the league championship series on Sept. 30 in a 5-4 season-ending — and heartbreaking — loss at rival Long Island in the deciding Game 5 of the Liberty Division Championship Series.

The last four years have seen the perennially contending Blue Crabs make the playoffs, reaching as far as the league championship series in 2009.

A five-game homestand kicks off the 2013 season for the Blue Crabs, as Crustacean Nation will have the opportunity to see the first cracks of the bat right before its very own eyes. Each of the league’s eight teams is slated to play 140 games in 2013.

Opening night is scheduled for April 24 at 7:05 p.m. at Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium where the Blue Crabs will host York to start a brief two-game series. Then the Blue Crabs remain in their home digs for their first weekend series of the fresh season when Somerset comes to town for a three-game set April 26-28.

That series against Somerset will be the start of the Blue Crabs’ 33 weekend home dates when the stadium’s much-anticipated, post-game fireworks are planned.

The Blue Crabs’ schedule in 2013 heats up in July for more than the obvious weather-related reasons.

As was announced right before their final game in 2012 at home on Sept. 23, the Blue Crabs will be hosting the 2013 Atlantic League All-Star game.

That huge honor thus means that the talented independent league’s biggest stars will descend upon Southern Maryland during the all-star break from July 9-11.

The all-star game occurs on July 10 as the Blue Crabs’ Liberty Division renews its annual clash with the Freedom Division.

“We are very happy with our 2013 schedule,” Blue Crabs general manager Joel Seiden said in a press release from the team. “Of course, we will plan a huge celebration for Opening Day … Our biggest event however will fall on Wednesday, July 10th, when we host the 2013 Atlantic League All-Star Game.”

July Fourth will enable Regency Furniture Stadium to warm up for the heavy crowds during the all-star break expected through its turnstiles. The Blue Crabs host its popular Independence Day game at 7:05 p.m. to conclude a three-game series with Camden.

The Blue Crabs’ red, white and blue showcase is then followed with another three-game home series July 5-7 against Sugar Land — a second-year Texas club in 2013 as the only non-East Coast-based team in the circuit — concluding the league’s first half of the season going into the all-star break.

From Jun 21-July 11, the Blue Crabs will only play three games on the road as Southern Maryland fans could get spoiled from having their team at home for 13 contests plus the three-day all-star break. The home-loaded schedule on the backend of the first half to the season appears to be an advantage for the Blue Crabs in hopes of securing a fifth straight playoff berth by winning the first-half division title.

“A great fireworks show will follow our game on the Fourth of July in the spirit of Independence Day,” Seiden said. “Fans can be sure that we are working hard in the offseason to think of ways to bring affordable family fun to Crustacean Nation for all 71 of our home games. Each night at the ballpark in 2013 will truly be its own event.”

The 2013 season comes full circle by wrapping up with a six-game homestand for the Blue Crabs, featuring a pair of three-game sets with Camden and then Lancaster.

Former Blue Crabs manager Butch Hobson is the Lancaster skipper, and he still evokes fond memories with Southern Maryland fans and players alike when he returns to the area. He managed the Blue Crabs during their first three seasons from 2008 through 2010.

Including the all-star game, there are 71 scheduled games on the Blue Crabs diamond in 2013: five in April, 10 in May, 16 in June, 14 in July, 15 in August and 11 in September.

“The 2013 schedule provides a lot of opportunity for Crustacean Nation members to vacation with the Blue Crabs,” Blue Crabs marketing manager Courtney Knichel said via a press release. “Instead of hitting the road for vacation, fans will find that there will be plenty of reasons to stay right here in Southern Maryland for a true blue-cation.”

Tickets and ticket plans for the 2013 season remain on sale.

From Dec. 3-22, season-ticket holders will have the opportunity to take part in an exclusive all-star game pre-sale. All new season ticket plans that are purchased before December 3rd will also have the opportunity to purchase all-star game tickets during the exclusive pre-sale.

Call 301-638-9788 or visit online at somdbluecrabs.com for more information about the team’s schedule and to purchase tickets.

dcogle@somdnews.com