There were some unhappy high school baseball players in Rochester all spring.
Unhappiest of all were the seniors among that group, with COVID-19 having wiped out what figured to be their final time playing for their respective teams.
“It was a difficult thing to wrap my head around,” said one of those seniors, Mayo’s Connor Campbell. “To not get to play my final season, the one I’d prepared so much for, and with a group of guys who’d all put in so much work together, was tough. It would have been nice to see what we could have done together.”
Well, thanks in large part to Mayo coach Tom Senne, those seniors are getting a final chance to play the game they love and with teammates they appreciate so much.
Senne and Owatonna coach Tate Cummins went the furthest to supply at least a semblance of a summer season after the American Legion baseball schedule was also done in by COVID-19.
They’ve put together what will amount to a month’s worth of baseball, playing in a newly constructed league they are calling the Southern Minny.
Two of those games took place Tuesday night in front of a large gathering of fans at Mayo Field. It was Mayo versus John Marshall and with all the trimmings of a Senior Night.
Since baseball players missed out on having a Senior Night this spring, Senne gave them one Tuesday.
Parents of seniors from both teams were announced between games, joining their sons in an on-the-field presentation. That was a photo opportunity, and another came immediately after when senior players from both teams joined together on the field, with coaches.
“That was really meaningful,” said Campbell, a standout infielder and pitcher for Mayo. “Having the seniors recognized by fans like that was great. And I think the moms of the players enjoy that most. I know my mom does.”
As for Senne’s input, Campbell says he will be forever grateful.
“That he took the time and energy to give guys a season, that means a lot,” said Campbell, whose team dropped the first game 9-4 in its doubleheader with JM, then won the nightcap 8-1.
“This just shows how much Senne cares about us as people and not just as baseball players.”
Mayo’s seniors are Campbell, Bryce Baker, Jayden Engelken, Ben Brust and Will Weick.
JM’s seniors are Chase Rubado, Tor Hendrickson and Drew Yochim.
Rubado was also filled with gratitude that a season has been provided for him and his teammates.
He’s another one who poured himself into preparing for a high school spring season that never happened, endlessly fielding ground balls over the winter from his father, JM assistant summer coach Kirk Rubado.
“I was a little bit sad when I found out we weren’t going to have a (spring) season, after all the work I’d put in,” Chase said. “But when I found out we were going to have this (summer) season, I couldn’t wait to play. That was especially true after having been quarantined for so long. Tonight, it felt so good to be out there. I love to play, and I can’t wait for our next game. This is going to be a short season, but it’s going to be good.”
Senne sure liked what he saw on Tuesday. It was baseball, and it was high school kids running around, playing a game he has also forever adored, and with plenty of fans in the stands.
He’d been waiting for this. So far, his plan has worked.
“It had a real baseball feel to it tonight,” Senne said. “It was nice seeing the community show their support for these guys. I wanted to give everyone this experience. So far, so good. We hope to get in as much baseball in a month as we can.”
John Marshall 9, Mayo 4
John Marshall: Aiden Brown 1-for-5 1 2B; Tyler Motley 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R; Cole Peterson 1-for-3 1 RBI; Jacob Welp 1-for-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R; Nolan Satre 2 R; Zack Carr 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 R; Drew Yochim 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R; Tor Hendrickson 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R. Pitchers: Sam Frecks 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K; Satre (W) 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
Mayo: Connor Campbell 1-for-2, 1 R; Brevin Goetz 2-for-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI; William Weick 1 RBI; Jayden Engelken 1-for-3, 1 R; Bryce Baker 1-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 R; Kyle Prindle 1-for-2 1 R. Pitchers: Kyle Prindle (LP) 4 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K; Adam McPhail 2. 2/3 P, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K; Jack Koestering 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.
Mayo 8, John Marshall 1
Mayo: William Weick 1 RBI, 1 R; Alex Miller 2-for-3 2 RBI; Caleb Beavers 1-for-3 2 RBI; Adam McPhail 1-for-2; Kyle Prindle -for-, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB. Pitchers: Will Weick (WP) 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K; Brevin Goetz 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Connor Campbell 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
John Marshall: Drew Yochim 1-for-1. Pitchers: Zack Carr (LP) 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; Cole Peterson 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K; Grant Klebig 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K; Jacob Welp 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K; Brandon Mensink 2/3 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K; Tyler Motley 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.