Area summer baseball teams have been feeling the effects of not being able to practice over the last several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation.
On Tuesday, Chanute Baseball lost 5-4 to Parsons in Game 1 of a doubleheader, but won 18-0 in Game 2. Chanute Baseball head coach Jeremy Wheeler said there was something to be said for not practicing as opposed to a regular, normal season.
“Basically I really try to, and coach (Hunter) Friederich is the same way, we really try to see things that happen in real game-time situations, and we try to correct it in a huddle, whether it be after a game, between a game, or before the next game. If he calls me and is pondering on something that maybe is a good point to bring up to the kids, we’ll have a little pregame chat about it. I mean, that’s what we have to do,” Wheeler said. “We won’t take breaks on coaching the kids. When we have to talk about it, it may be mid-inning, and that’s what we have to do. If he’s (Friederich) on third base side, he is right there to carry a message and I’m right here (first base) to carry a message. We’ll never stop giving our input and what we consider to make fantastic baseball players.”
Still, while in-game coaching has worked for Chanute – the local baseball team is currently 10-8 on the year – Wheeler said he missed having regular practices, and not having practice is a slight disadvantage. One example is pitching. After a pitcher tosses about 80 pitches, Wheeler said he would like that pitcher to stretch and toss a day or two after the game to keep the arm active and healthy. He said not having practices could take players out of a hitting rhythm as well.
Parsons summer baseball coach Will Owens said it’s been a unique situation when it comes to going from game-to-game and not having a chance to practice.
“It’s been different. It’s almost like, if you were to put it in any perspective, it’s almost like they live in the major league life; those guys don’t practice, they show up, get their BP (batting practice) before a game and they go. And so, in total I think we’ve had two practices and we’ve played 22 games,” Owens said as he laughed at not being at practice consistently. “You show up, you get better each game. You’ve got to take advantage of the practices you get here when you are actually playing. And the ultimate goal is for the kids to play next spring and get to have some fun in their high schools.”
Owens also said it is a slight disadvantage when not practicing each and every day. The sixth-year summer baseball coach acknowledged he has noticed some rust on his players from the very start, whether swinging the bat, pitching or the mental approach in all aspects of the game.
Chanute’s next games will be versus Parsons, Tuesday at 6 and 8 pm at Katy Park.