No 'Last Dance' For High School Seniors: Part Two
April 24, 2020
Preseason All-State Teams, click below:
To view each of the parts to the No 'Last Dance' Series, click below:
No 'Last Dance' For High School Seniors: Part Two
PART TWO: The following is the second of an in-depth six-part story looking at the 2020 high school baseball season in Ohio which was officially cancelled this week. To view Part One, click here.
No high school baseball season in Ohio.
It has never happened before.
Not America’s game.
Even when World War II began, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to assure that baseball continued its summer domination of the country’s sports attention. He believed baseball was essential to the country’s morale.
But the current pandemic in our country has brought an end to the chance at playing baseball this spring. At least high school baseball in Ohio.
Credit for photo, BaseballHall.org
Not only is the 2020 high school season washed out, but for so many players a chance at sought-after exposure will not take place. There are no games for scouts/coaches to attend.
“I was looking forward to throwing for coaches and doing what I can do to get seen,” noted Lebanon junior Zach Weber, the top-ranked uncommitted 2021 right-handed pitcher in Ohio. “This puts a lot of stuff on hold.”
Walsh Jesuit junior left-handed pitcher Bobby Perebzak is another missing out on an opportunity to impress those at the next level.
“I had a lot of coaches that were going to come out and see me ... but not now,” Perebzak related. “But I can’t let it get to me mentally. I still have to be optimistic that we’ll have a summer and they’ll come and watch.”
Nolan Kubilus, a Wadsworth junior, understands the difficulty with not being seen.
“It’s going to be pretty tough,” the hard-throwing RHP said. “Being a junior, this is a big part of recruitment. It will be a challenge not to play.”
It is even more troubling for uncommitted seniors.
“I was really looking forward to showcasing myself this spring,” noted Jack Steibel, a right-hander who decommitted from Miami of Florida and is now the top-rated uncommitted senior pitcher in Ohio. “It is disappointing that the season isn’t going to be played but there is summer ball to look forward to.”
Zach Maxey looks at it in a similar fashion.
“This does hurt my opportunity to prove myself to college coaches, but I believe that if I keep working hard I will reach where I want to go,” pointed out the third-ranked uncommitted 2020 in the state.
Ohio PBR Director of Scouting Jordan Chiero points out no spring season is obviously having an effect on recruitment but looks for summer to be bigger than ever - assuming there is baseball played in the state.
“It’s obviously not an ideal situation,” Chiero explained. “However, it’s important for junior and senior players to remember that the calendar is being pushed back for college coaches as well. The situation is fluid and nobody knows when we will be back playing, but if there is a summer season I’d expect little impact on recruiting. College coaches will be out like we’ve never seen before to catch up on their classes once baseball begins again.”
2021 two-way Jake Johnson, the second-rated uncommitted junior in the state, is doing his best at making a positive out of a negative.
“I don’t see it as a bad thing for recruiting,” said the Medina two-way prospect, a shortstop and pitcher. “If I’m good enough to make an impact on a college team, one will find me.”
2022 LHP/1B Luke Krouse was also hoping to get some exposure this spring.
“I have talked to some coaches and they had planned on coming to a game,” the Antwerp sophomore said. “I try not to think about it. I’ve just been trying to get better all the way around.”
The video below is a clip of each of the prospects above.
With the high school season in question prior to the decision by the OHSAA, players like Krouse continued working out to be prepared for the season if and when the time ever materialized.
“I have a lifting setup in my basement and I’ve been doing workouts mainly every day,” the 37th-rated 2022 in the state said. “Throwing is an everyday thing, too, I just make sure I vary what I do every day. I thank my dad for providing that for me. It gives me an opportunity to get better easier, rather than what other people may have.”
Gabriel Nard is another underclassman putting in the work.
“I’ve been doing loads of tee work, and soft toss,” the Saint Ignatius two-way sophomore said. “I’ve been taking ground balls at HB School (Hathaway Brown) and I’ve been working out three or four times a week. I’m throwing bullpens, and I’ve also been doing band work and sprint work at my house.”
Cole Pauley, an uncommitted sophomore at Lexington, is blessed enough to have the tools to work out at home.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a batting cage in my barn,” Pauley noted. “I do what I can outdoors and go inside when I need to. I’m just trying to make the best of it all. I’m lucky enough to have two more years, I just feel bad for all the seniors.”
Those nearing graduation, such as Logan Danzeisen, continue working hard with college next on their baseball agenda.
“I’ve been working out at a track near my house,” said the Sylvania Southview senior, a Purdue commit. “I run and do some body weight training.”
Caden Kline, a left-handed pitcher signed with Ohio State, is another staying close to home.
“Luckily for me, one of my best friends is also my catcher and he lives a block away,” the ninth-ranked 2020 in the state said.
Kade Kern, another Ohio State commit, is also putting in time to get better.
“I have still been working out on the high school baseball field every day,” noted the seventh-ranked 2020 in the state. “I have a weight room in my basement that I use and I also go to the school’s track to work on agility and my speed.”
Wyatt Hudepohl, a Kentucky recruit, is another with a strong drive to improve.
“My trainer helped out and gave me a simple squat rack along with writing workouts that will keep me as strong as possible during this time,” the St. Xavier senior said. “I have also been looking up workouts and doing more bodyweight stuff with what I have.
“This time has shown me how important your body is to be healthy so I’ve really invested in stretching and eating healthy to stay ready for whenever we come back,” the top-rated 2020 right-handed pitcher in Ohio said. “Throwing wise, I’ve been able to keep my arm strong and ready by throwing bullpens and long tossing.”
Cole Zak is another working hard that will be going out of state to play collegiately.
“For lifting, I’ve been working out in my garage,” the Pittsburgh signee said. “I’ve got a squat rack and some dumbbells. I also have a batting cage in my backyard with a pitching machine for hitting. For throwing, I have a pretty big backyard so I’m able to throw and long toss.”
Finding workout help is a must for some.
“I’ve been working out five days per week,” noted Jordan Stevens, a Kent State signee ranked eighth in Ohio’s senior class. “My dad will go whenever I ask him and he’ll throw me BP. I also throw and run sprints on my middle school track in Shaker and run up a big hill by my house with my guy Nate Rose. I also do body weight exercises and make sure I stretch and get my mobility in every day, but I’m also making sure I don’t overwork myself.”
Michael McNamara, who will be a teammate of Stevens at Kent State in the fall, is also putting in the time to get better with baseball on hold.
“I’ve been weight lifting every day in my friend’s garage, where he has a full weight room and supplies,” related the 36th-ranked senior in the state. ”I’ve been throwing and hitting every other day at various locations around the city. Some places I got kicked off at, so I had to find a new place. I’ve been trying to do as much as I can to keep my mind off reality.”AHEAD: Part three of this story will check in with last year’s state champions and how they are dealing with no opportunity to get back to state.