Marysville High School head baseball coach Nick Blake (left) talks to Gabe Schaeffer (3) during a 2019 game. Blake feels the 2020 Monarchs would have been very successful this spring had the coronavirus not halted the season. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
High school coaches always look forward to a new season.
It’s a time for growth and to see if and how much your team has improved from the previous campaign.
Marysville High School head baseball coach Nick Blake was very optimistic for the start of a new season.
The shame of it is the Monarchs were stopped in their tracks by COVID-19 before they could basically get started.
“We had a really good off-season and if anything, we were feeling pretty good about what we could have accomplished this year,” said Blake.
The Monarchs finished with a 15-12 overall record and placed second in the Ohio Capital Conference Central Division to Upper Arlington in 2019.
With a senior group of eight key players, Blake was anxious to see what his team could accomplish during his second season at the MHS helm.
“We had a great off-season in the weight room and our seniors were proving to be great leaders,” he said. “The guys really pushed each other.”
The Monarchs were able to get in a couple of preseason scrimmages against Westerville North and North Union before spring athletics were halted.
“We looked different from last year during our scrimmages,” said Blake. “Our work in the weight room left us filling out our jerseys a little better and we looked better than we did last year in all three phases of the game – hitting, fielding and pitching.
“We were also going to take a more aggressive approach with our offense,” he said. “We were learning not to be as picky at the plate as far as what pitches we saw.
“We were teaching the guys to react more with the bat.”
While Blake was pleased with what he saw in limited offensive opportunities, he was especially excited about the prospects of his pitching staff.
“Guys like Jack Christian, Andrew Van Hoose, Dom Smith, Trey Storr and Josh Arnold worked very hard during the off-season,” he said.
Storr and Christian were the top two pitchers for the Monarchs last spring. They finished with respective ERAs of 1.25 and 2.05.
While Blake is disappointed for the loss of what he anticipated being a stellar season, he feels even worse for seniors Chase Kilgore (catcher), Matt Belt (outfielder), Connor Parks (shortstop), Gabe Schaeffer (first base), Smith, Van Hoose, Arnold and Jayden Simmons (outfield).
“These guys are missing out on their final season in a Marysville uniform,” said the coach. “They won’t get another shot at playing for Marysville and it was a tough conversation about that with them.”
Blake said he has given members of the team drills they can work on during their own time in order to keep their skills sharp.
“We’re also checking in with them on-line every week to see how they are doing,” he said.
As far as actual baseball, all Blake can do now is think about what might have been.
“We didn’t have any holes anywhere in our lineup,” he said.
“I was an assistant coach at Dublin Coffman before I was head coach at London,” said Blake. “I feel this year’s Marysville squad would have been one of the best of which I’ve ever been a part.”
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