Seymour college baseball players on hold

Alan Perry was shocked when he heard his 2020 baseball season at Cedarville University was coming to a stop.

Perry is one of seven former Seymour High School baseball players who were looking forward to extending their careers at colleges in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio this spring when they saw their plans halted in mid-March due to COVID-19.

Michael Knecht is playing at Franklin College and Hunter Ahlbrand and Takumi Nishiwaki are on the team at Hanover College in Indiana; Perry is at Cedarville University, A.J. Boshears is at Kent State Tuscarawas and R.J. Kleber is at Mt. Vernon Nazarene, all in Ohio; and Seth Maki is a member of the Kishwaukee Kougars in Illinois.

Perry, Knecht, Maki and Boshears graduated from Seymour in 2018, while Ahlbrand, Nishiwaki and Kleber graduated in 2019.

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Franklin had completed a trip to Florida, notching a record of 2-2 there and was 5-3 overall when its season was suspended because of the virus’ spread.

“We usually play close to 40 games, and we only got eight in,” Knecht said. "It was on a Thursday when they announced at school that our season was canceled.”

Knecht is an outfielder with the Grizzlies.

“I made the travel squad, and I was working my way up and getting more reps," he said. "We had two senior outfielders returning.”

Knecht, who is studying history and secondary education, said he misses the intensity of practices and how competitive they were.

“I miss the reps at practice, specifically in the outfield when we get together and talk," he said. "In batting practice, we make catches in the outfield to see who can catch the most fly balls, and that is always fun. When the other outfielders are up to bat, we make diving catches to make sure they (opponents) don’t get a hit.”

Instead of being out on the field practicing much with teammates lately, though, Knecht said he has been lifting weights.

“I’ve been staying active in the weight room doing some conditioning," he said. "I was lucky enough to get out on a field in Columbus just to do some hitting. We were on an open field, and my dad threw to me. The main thing is to stay strong. There is not much else you can do.”

He said he is planning on playing with the Franklin Cougars this summer. The Cougars are made up of players from Franklin and other colleges.

Perry also is planning on playing for the Cougars and said he has been in touch with the coach. The Cougars will play doubleheaders on Saturdays and Sundays.

“That would be huge since our season was canceled. I didn’t get to play last summer with my injury,” he said.

Perry helped the Cedarville team get off to a 7-5 record this year. He said the Yellow Jackets had played games in Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Florida before the season ended.

“I was in shock because we were supposed to go to West Virginia for our first conference game," he said. "They told us on Wednesday, and we were supposed to leave Thursday night.”

Perry said the presidents of the Great Midwest Conference had a meeting.

“At first, they said we could stay on campus, and then they closed campus the same week we had our season canceled," he said. "I came home the following weekend.”

Perry was playing shortstop and batting second at the beginning of the season before being shifted to hit fourth in the lineup. In a doubleheader against Mars Hill, North Carolina, he went 6-for-10 with six runs and seven RBI.

Overall, Perry was 17-for-54 for the season with a .315 average, accompanied by 15 runs, 13 RBIs, nine walks, four doubles, one triple and one home run.

“The biggest thing I enjoy is the guys I get to be around,” Perry said. “We were really a close team this season, and it was unfortunate the season was called. The relationships in college are second to none.”

Perry said he has been pretty creative with workouts.

“I have a friend that has a batting cage in his barn, and I’ve been using that," he said. "I’ve been hitting off a tee. I’ve been working out in my garage. I’ve been doing what I can to stay in shape.”

Maki was playing at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois. He attended Sauk Valley Community College the first semester before transferring to Kishwaukee for the spring semester.

During preseason, he practiced in the outfield. Then he suffered a sprained ankle and missed the first week of the competition. The Kougars were 0-5 when the season was canceled.

Maki felt he was ready to be back to baseball. Playing in both games of a doubleheader against Iowa Central, he went 2-for-2 in one game and 1-for-2 in the other game for a 3-for-4 day and had two RBI.

Maki said he learned the remainder of the season had been canceled while attending a team meeting. He was looking forward to playing in a tournament in Treasure Island, Florida, the following week.

“It was a big disappointment, especially since it was my first year of college,” he said. “We were waiting to see what the Division I teams were going to do, and when they canceled their seasons, we canceled ours. I came home after that.”

Maki said he likes being a student at Kishwaukee.

“I had good counselors," he said. "They were a big help with me getting my classes. Kishwaukee has a really nice field, and the team is a good environment, and everybody wanted to play and win.”

Maki said he hopes to play in some kind of an independent league this summer.

Boshears was attending Cincinnati Bible College when it folded in December, so he transferred to Kent State Tuscarawas, which is located south of Canton.

It was March 12 when the Tuscarawas coach told the team its season was canceled, just as Boshears was looking forward to playing in the Golden Eagles’ opening game just days later.  

Boshears had not played in a real game in a long time. Because of shoulder surgery in 2019, he didn’t get to play at Cincinnati Bible his freshman season.

“I was going to play some center field and right field and possibly a little at second base,” he said. “I was looking to get back on the field and to enjoy getting to play the game again.”

This would have been his first game since he was with the Owls in the 2018 sectional at Bedford North Lawrence.

Boshears had been taking classes online and said he took his last final May 6. He expects to play in a summer league with a team in New Philadelphia, Ohio, though practice time has been limited.

“We can’t play anywhere," Boshears said. "Our practice facility is locked up. I’ve been lifting weights and going on a run every other day. My family is coming up to see me, and I told my mother to bring a batting tee."