WYOMING - There were times during the weeks leading up to what was supposed to be an Iowa high school baseball season when Midland baseball coach Josh Soper wasn’t sure his team was actually going to be able to play in 2020.
Then there were other times he felt pretty confident there would be high school baseball played in Iowa.
“I went back and forth on it there for a while,” Soper said. “Basically, we all just didn’t know what exactly to expect, but there was certainly some serious doubt when school and spring sports were cancelled that there may very well not be any summer sports either. But when May rolled around and talking with other coaches in zoom meeting started giving me a little more optimism that we might be able to play this summer.”
Then two weeks later, Soper, and the rest of the Iowa High School baseball world got the word from the Governor that summer sports would indeed take place.
“It was just a huge relief,” Soper said. “Finally, we can get back into a routine again and find a little normalcy during this incredibly crazy time.
“As a coach you miss your kids, and having that routine taken away was like having a part of me taken away. But, to get that back has been huge, and the kids can’t wait to get going.”
Midland, like every Iowa high school baseball and softball program around the state, had their first practice Monday, June 1, and just the plain fact of being able to be outside with his team was all it took to put a smile on Soper’s face.
“All the kids were excited to get going again,” he said. “There were a lot of smiles. Everyone was so happy to be back and get into the routine of playing sports again. I’m especially happy for the seniors, who get to play one more sport before heading off to college. To have spring and summer sports taken away from them would have been a tragedy.”
Alex Smith, Wilson Buckwalter, Jensen Dodge and Sawyer Hansen are the Eagles’ senior leaders this summer, and are working on getting back into baseball shape.
“The first few days of practice were a lot of fundamentals works,” Soper said. “We’ve been doing individual workouts in the mornings and then team practices in the afternoons. We make sure all social distancing guidelines are taken into effect and rotated kids through the individual workouts every other day before everyone comes back for practice in the afternoon. So far I think it’s worked out really well and has allowed us to make up a little ground that we lost with all that time off.”
While numbers are lower this summer, Soper still expects his team to once again be competitive.
“I’m seeing right away at practice that we’re going to have no easy outs this year with the way our guys are swinging the bats,” he said. “We’ll have a deep line-up offensively and I also really like the way our pitching staff is coming together, too. I think we have a good team and have the chance to do some pretty special things this summer come the post-season.
“Mainly though, we’re just happy we actually get to play the game and get back into a routine.”