By Mike Deak
WARSAW – There will be no high school baseball this spring. There will be no sports this spring. It’s not anything new, everyone knows it. But that doesn’t mean baseball, softball, track, golf and tennis were not being planned, prepared, dreamed about.
In an effort to pay tribute to each of the spring sports that were cut by the pandemic, as well as the seniors that lost their final seasons with their schools, IFN is running a ‘season preview’ for each of the sports this week. Each sport will get a brief overview as it would have in a normal preview setting, but representative seniors from each of the schools will speak their piece.
Up first is baseball.
One of the coverage area’s teams – NorthWood – made the championship of the sectional round of the state tournament a year ago, but would not advance to the regional round. Otherwise it was several sets of decent regular seasons without any titles to show for it between the Panthers, Warsaw, Wawasee, Tippecanoe Valley and Triton.
All three of the Northern Lakes Conference teams were really anticipating the season. NorthWood was set to bring back several key components of its team, including Jack Wysong, Nate Newcomer, Cooper Davis, Sergio Lira Ayala, Jaden Miller and Jacob Raasch among several other major contributors. Wawasee was really primed to a breakout campaign, aiming to bring back nearly a dozen major returners including seniors Carter Woody, Ethan Garza, Levi Brown and Austin Baker, to name a few. Warsaw also had plenty of firepower in place, notably seniors Noah Brugh and Jacob Hutcherson.
Tippecanoe Valley was looking to bounce back after a tough out in the state tournament, and were pinning its hopes on the likes of seniors Russ Paxton, Jasten Snapp and Tanner Trippiedi and some new energy from the dugout in first-year head coach Jarred Littlejohn. Triton struggled through its 2019 campaign and only had higher hopes. Ty Ferry was ready to lead the Trojans and get them back into the Class 1-A conversation again.
But rather than make up scenarios, let’s give the floor to the seniors themselves.
Ty Ferry, Triton: “Staying sharp for baseball season isn’t a problem at all for me. I’m always ready to lace up the cleats and go perform 110 percent for my school, teammates, and coaches. My coach had to tell me to take it easy one night at practice because I was going to hard. So I was mentally and physically prepared to get things under way whenever we got started. Given that this was my last hurrah for Triton meant a lot for me as I was the only senior on the team. I’m going to miss putting on a Triton uniform in the spring but I’m happy that I can continue my baseball career in college.”
Tanner Trippiedi, Tippecanoe Valley: “My senior year of baseball being taken away is one of the most heartbreaking things. Although I will not be able to play the sport I love with the people I love, I am looking back at all the amazing memories from the past few years. Sometimes in life things don’t go the way you planned, but I know I have to move on. Baseball taught me a lot more than just the sport, it taught me many life lessons that I will hold onto forever. Now that I will no longer be playing baseball, I will take the lessons and teachings that I learned and apply them in my everyday life.”
Noah Burgh, Warsaw: “I never take a day off. I’m either working on my body or the game or both. I have an arm velocity program that I have been doing since the season has been canceled. I do a lot of tee work and long toss. I still need to focus on getting ready for fall ball at Purdue Northwest. I definitely felt like this was going to be a good season. Just wanted one more shot to play with my senior teammates who I have been playing since I was eight with. I really think we had a shot at the NLC and sectionals this year. It was heartbreaking when spring sports was cancelled. Just knowing I will never walk out on the field again wearing number 7 was awful.”
Tony Garcia, Wawasee: “The way I reacted was how not many people would react. It meant more to me when spring sports got cancelled. I immediately began texting my teammates that this isn’t the end for us. I grabbed a tee and a bucket of balls and went to go hit as I thought of many things. Our spring season had been taken away from us. We’re never truly going to know how good we could have been. If we would have won sectionals. If we would have won conference. If we would have gone to state. This was arguably the best season Wawasee baseball was ever going to have. And the fact that we won’t know how it would have truly turned out, is what kills me the most. Sometimes life will throw the biggest obstacle, but we have to learn how to get past it and overcome it.”
Jack Wysong, NorthWood: “When you find out there are cancellations and closures, you don’t really think of things in the long term. Everything just seems to be in the moment. About how we wouldn’t have practices, games, all the stuff we do off the field. It’s tough, it really is.”