For seniors, coaches pleased to see baseball played

J. Patrick Eaken

Lake baseball coach Greg Wilker was pleased to see the Northern Buckeye Conference coaches coming together and putting together a short summer season, which included the 2020 seniors.
Those seniors do not usually play organized high school summer ball after graduation, and it helped them recoup the lost they felt after not getting a chance to put up senior numbers, lead their high school teammates, and perhaps draw the attention of college scouts.
“I feel bad for all those kids. The senior group was probably the most excited. I only had four seniors this year and most of them showed up as much as possible to play some games,” Wilker said.
“That’s what I was talking to (Genoa baseball coach) Gary (Nissen) about and that’s the advantage of larger schools, they can play through August. We have two more weeks we are going to play. I don’t want to risk it too much, but we are going to try and get about a dozen games in this summer,” Wilker continued.
“Most of our kids play football, also, and we get into camps in the middle of July, so we want to give them a week or two off before we get into football. But we are just happy for the seniors and they are just happy to get some games in. We didn’t think we were going to get to do anything this summer. When I found out we were able to play, they were real excited.
“We talked about it and most teams, like Genoa, I think Gary had maybe one senior playing (that game). It’s just hit and miss. We had four, but I have one senior working most of the time, but he showed up for two of the games because he wanted to be a part of it. He just wanted to throw the uniform on one more time.”
Wilker’s sentiments are echoed by other prep baseball coaches who talked to The Press this summer, including Nissen, Clay coach Jim Phillips and Cardinal Stritch coach Mike McGee.
Over 36 years after landing the job at Lake, Wilker is still coaching. Last year, his Flyers hammered Wauseon, 20-2, giving Wilker his 600th career victory. Wilker, 58, told The Press then that his players knew he was one win from No. 600, so they went out and scored nine runs — all with two outs — in the first inning against Wauseon to put the game away early. Currently, the OHSAA has Wilker listed at 621-345 (1985-2019), which is 20th all-time in Ohio.
Wilker, also a longtime assistant football coach, is concerned about the upcoming season. So far, the OHSAA has fall sports continuing, but that could change. The OHSAA is releasing coronavirus protocols for coaches, fans, and schools on its website.
“I’m concerned. You know, I hope it happens. We played Genoa last night and I was talking to coach Nissen, and we were saying, part of it is we are living on borrowed time here. You watch what is happening at these colleges, like LSU and Clemson — you get one or two cases and it just spreads like wildfire. So, hopefully if we can keep everyone healthy then everyone can play this year because the kids sure need sports. I’ve been at it a long time and it’s a big part of the educational process.”
Last week, Interim Executive Director, Bob Goldring issued an update to OHSAA member schools regarding the status of start dates for fall sports. 
Key takeaways provided by Goldring include: 
• The plan is to move forward with the normal start date for practices on August 1 and to have full seasons and regular series' of tournaments for all 10 fall sports.
• There is a continued need to wait on the governor's office to approve contact sports scrimmages and contests between opposing teams. 
• The OHSAA encourages athletes and coaches to participate in their #IWantASeason campaign. Tweet photos of responsible athletics training practices (such as, mask wearing, social distancing) to: @OHSAASports
• The OHSAA encourages member schools to continue to reach out with recommendations, as they're striving to work cooperatively with all stakeholders toward the resolution process. 
• The OHSAA says it will continue to provide widespread updates in an effort to dispel rumors and confusion that exists. 
(includes Press release from Ohio MileSplit's cross country and track website)


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