Is High School Baseball Still Possible?
Monday's sunny skies and 55 degrees would have made for a great opening day for Triton baseball which was on the schedule to play Cannon Falls at John Burch Field. Other teams would be putting their final touches on batting orders for their opening day games this week. Instead, we are left wondering if there will be a high school spring sports season at all.
The Minnesota State High School League, in keeping with Governor Walz stay-at-home order and distance learning, has a suspension on spring sports until at least May 4. Recent conversations with local baseball coaches and activities directors find educators that remain optimistic that a season can still happen.
Longtime Owatonna baseball coach Tate Cummins is encouraged that the season is suspended and not canceled at this point. If the all-clear is given in early May, he would like to see about a week of practice, followed by a couple of weeks of games, and then playoffs. He knows arm care would be paramount due to the layoff.
Baseball teams began arm strengthening workouts March 9. Before players could even swing a bat in practice on March 16, the freeze on all official practice was enacted. Coaches, in all sports, can suggest individual workouts for players, but they cannot be required and can't report back to the coaches. Owatonna baseball has created several Facebook Live events and has been active on Twitter with encouraging words.
First-year head NRHEG coach Mark Lee would welcome a chance to play five or ten games and then get into the playoffs. He says getting the players arms into shape would be a big factor.
Medford's softball team was scheduled to play its first game on Monday. Under the initial schedule Owatonna would be scrimmaging in Austin Tuesday and playing their first game on Thursday at Morehouse Park. Lacrosse practice was scheduled to start Monday, March 30.
Triton Activities Director Shane Van Beek was the baseball coach for the Cobras last season. He appreciates the tough spot the high school league is in with balancing the importance of activities in the minds of students and the community, but says the safety and well being of the students is the primary issue. Van Beek remembers a couple of seasons ago that the entire baseball season was played in the month of May.
Blooming Prairie AD Ali Mach, who coached the Awesome Blossoms to a state softball title in 2013, says if the seasons can't be held, everyone will regroup and grow in the future.