The league held its first season with four teams based in Indiana and Illinois; two of the teams were from the recently disbanded Mid-America League. The Lafayette Leopards captured the first championship and were led by the circuit's MVP, third baseman Garry Kamphouse, who hit .342 with a league-leading 52 RBI. Despite finishing in last place, the Dubois County Dragons had the league's highest attendance, drawing 33,203 fans, more than the other three clubs combined. They were led on the field by Most Valuable Pitcher Johnny Oestrich (8-2 with a 3.18 ERA) and designated hitter Juan Price (who won the home run crown with 13).
|Lafayette Leopards||32-27||.542||--||Bob Hallas|
|Anderson Lawmen||32-28||.533||.5||Jay Walker|
|Will County Cheetahs||28-31||.475||4||Gregg Slutsky|
|Dubois County Dragons||27-33||.450||5.5||R.C. Lichtenstein|
After its inaugural season, the league absorbed four teams from the other indy leagues bringing the circuit to its peak size of eight clubs. The Clarksville Coyotes, Columbia Mules, and Tennessee Tomahawks joined from the Big South League and the Altoona Rail Kings came from the North Atlantic League. The Rail Kings and Tomahawks both posted 22-14 marks to win first half division titles. In the second half, the Tomahawks lost just one game en route to a 33-1 record. However, they were defeated by the Mules in the first round of the playoffs, and the Mules went on to beat the Anderson Lawmen to capture the league crown.
Angel Santiago of the Will County Cheetahs led the league with a .374 average, and Tennessee's Curtis Underwood slugged a league-best 15 homers. On the mound, George Mianowski of Tennessee paced the circuit with 11 wins, and teammate (and former big leaguer) John Dopson posted a 1.78 ERA to capture the ERA crown.
Boosted by their league-best record, Tennessee lead the circuit in attendance. Overall, the league drew over 210,000 fans in 1997.
|North Division||South Division|
|Altoona Rail Kings||22||14||.611||--||Michael Richmond||Tennessee Tomahawks||22||14||.611||--||Jeff Gamble|
|Will County Cheetahs||18||17||.514||3.5||Gerry Clarke||Columbia Mules||20||15||.571||1.5||Steve Howard|
|Anderson Lawmen||13||21||.382||8||David Edwards||Dubois County Dragons||16||18||.471||5||Jeff Pinney|
|Lafayette Leopards||13||22||.371||8.5||Brad Cohen||Clarksville Coyotes||16||19||.457||5.5||Jeff Bibb|
|North Division||South Division|
|Anderson Lawmen||19||16||.543||--||David Edwards||Tennessee Tomahawks||33||1||.971||--||Jeff Gamble|
|Lafayette Leopards||18||18||.500||1.5||Brad Cohen||Columbia Mules||18||16||.529||15||Steve Howard|
|Altoona Rail Kings||14||22||.389||5.5||Michael Richmond||Clarksville Coyotes||16||20||.444||18||Jeff Bibb|
|Will County Cheetahs||13||22||.371||6||Gerry Clarke||Dubois County Dragons||10||26||.278||24||Jeff Pinney|
After the 1997 season, the league entered into some trouble, as the Anderson franchise withdrew from the league and both Clarksville and Columbia suspended operations. With the AA Altoona Curve set to begin play, the Altoona Rail Kings moved west to Huntington, West Virginia. The Cheetahs moved 20 miles east to Midlothian, Illinois while waiting for their new stadium to be built in nearby Crestwood. The league added the Big South League's Tupelo Tornado to bring the league's teams to six. Both the Huntington and Tupelo franchises folded early in the season.
On the diamond, the Tennessee Towahawks, won both the first half and second half titles, but lost in the league championships to the newly christened Cook County Cheetahs. Jason Kinchen of Lafayette hit .324 with a league-best 24 homers and was named MVP. After the season, the league ceased operations as the Cheetahs (with their new stadium complete) jumped to the Frontier League.
|First Half||Second Half|
|Tennessee Tomahawks||24||11||.686||--||Mike O'Berry||Tennessee Tomahawks||19||10||.655||--||Mike O'Berry|
|Cook County Cheetahs||23||11||.676||.5||Brian Dayett||Dubois County Dragons||17||17||.500||4.5||Jay Welker|
|Lafayette Leopards||16||17||.485||7||Bob Hallas||Lafayette Leopards||19||22||.463||6||Bob Hallas|
|Dubois County Dragons||15||19||.441||8.5||Jay Welker||Cook County Cheetahs||14||18||.438||6.5||Brian Dayett|
|Tupelo Tornado||4||10||.286||9.5||Steve Dillard|
|Huntington RailKings||9||23||.281||13.5||Mike Richmond|
- Altoona, PA: Altoona Rail Kings 1997
- Anderson, IN: Anderson Lawmen 1996-1997
- Booneville, MS: Tupelo Tornado 1998
- Clarksville, TN: Clarksville Coyotes 1997
- Midlothian, IL: Cook County Cheetahs 1998
- Columbia, TN: Columbia Mules 1997
- Huntingburg, IN: Dubois County Dragons 1996-1998
- Huntington, WV: Huntington Rail Kings 1998
- Lafayette, IN: Lafayette Leopards 1996-1998
- Romeoville, IL: Will County Cheetahs 1996-1997
- Winchester, TN: Tennessee Tomahawks 1997-1998