Baseball players reach home


The whizz of a baseball flying by. The cheers erupting from the crowds at the end of a home run. The smell of popcorn and funnel cakes from the concession stands. Those are some of the first things that come to mind when someone thinks of baseball, but much of this will change due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

However, while baseball season may not look the same this year, the White Station baseball team is still optimistic about the outcome of their season. They have not competed in any games yet, but in practices they have shown improvement and steady enthusiasm despite more restrictions. 

“We’ve had a week and a half of practice, and I’ve already been impressed by a lot of the guys on the team,” Gordon Brode (12) said. “A lot of people [after] a week and a half look so different than they did at our first couple days of practice to now that I can imagine after a couple weeks of real game experience … we can compete with the other teams around us.”

With energy high and practices pushing forward, the team has quickly adjusted to the new mandates. Luckily, baseball is already a mostly isolated sport, with social distancing rules easy to enforce, especially for outfielders.

“Baseball is a very socially distanced sport anyway,” Brode said. “Our coach always says everyone is an island: everyone is responsible for their own job … so it’s not much of a change because the ways we were a team before – where we’re excited for each other and picking each other up and helping out when we can – those things can still happen in a socially distant way.”

And for many baseball players, this continued team connection is important as for them baseball is not just a sport, but it’s a group of friends who have each other’s backs. The new restrictions can’t dismantle their team and their friendships.

“[My favorite part is definitely] my teammates: that’s the whole reason that I’ve done [baseball] for four years,” Brode said. “I love playing the game, but it doesn’t really mean a lot without having good teammates who you care about, and you know that they care about you too … [Now] it’s a little difficult, but luckily the teammate aspect hasn’t really gone away.”

Though the social aspect of the team remains steady, there is uncertainty about if spectators will be allowed and how many would be allowed. However, even with a possible lack of cheering, these players are confident they can create their own motivation.

“I think the main thing … is that people are going to have to find a way to get their motivation from themselves and not from their [spectators],” Coleman Stephens (11) said. “It may not be the same ambiance, but you still have to find it inside you to get ready to go.”

While these teammates have stood resilient throughout the changes brought by COVID-19, one of the greatest challenges presented for juniors and seniors is missing quality game time which might negatively affect those hoping to be scouted by colleges. 

“For the other guys who were trying to get recruited and trying to get seen by a school, it was almost impossible because there’s a lot of guys who are juniors this year … and they only have stats and videos of their freshmen season, so it’s really not what they want to be sending out to coaches,” Brode said. “They’re put in a really tough spot if they’re trying to go play college baseball.”

Though it may be difficult, current juniors are up to the challenge; however, they remain realistic and optimistic about college scouting this season. 

“I missed my sophomore year … and that’s a big year for me,” Stephens said. “Thankfully, I got playing time in varsity level my freshman year. I’ve seen what it looks like …  I know the speed of the game. But definitely, I’m going into this with one year of playing experience — I’m not really an upperclassman or anything [yet].”

Overall, there are still many exciting things to come for the baseball team. As they work back into shape and create stronger team dynamics, it is good for them to be home, both on the diamond and back with friends. While things may not be back to normal yet, the team is still looking forward to the rest of the season.

“It was really surreal. It wasn’t like we just picked up where we left off, but everything kind of just fell back into place really smoothly,” Brode said. “It didn’t go back to normal, but it has a sense of normalcy to it, and that’s really nice and just happened really quickly.”