WAHOO – You will have to forgive Wahoo Baseball Association President Nick Milliken if he hasn’t returned your call or text message.
He’s been kind of busy.
Milliken and the Wahoo Baseball Association, after getting the okay to move forward with their season from Governor Pete Ricketts, has been busy putting together practice and game schedules for Wahoo’s 10-and-under, 12-and-under, 14-and-under and three legion teams.
He had most of the scheduling done last December, but like most everything else it all fell apart with the arrival of COVID-19 in March.
“It’s been a logistical nightmare. “We had to completely redo everything when it came to the scheduling for all of the teams from 10-and-under to the seniors. After some hard work from a lot of people, I think we are in a good place,” Milliken added.
With new guidelines, rules and regulations in place, all of the players have returned to the field in preparation for the season’s start this weekend.
Dugouts will look different, only a handful of fans will be allowed to document the outcome and the postgame handshake has been temporarily suspended.
“It’s going to take some time for all of the us to get used to what the game is going to look this summer, but as coaches we are taking the safety of our players very seriously,” Milliken added.
Two 10-and-under, two 12-and-under, one 14-and-under, two junior legion teams and one senior legion team make up the 2020 summer baseball roster.
Milliken has 32 players who will compete on three legion teams. Twenty-two of the players are in the 15-16 age group and will make up two junior legion teams. Ten players made up the 17-18 year old age group and will play for the Wahoo State Bank Reds.
Milliken is content with the number of players he has in his program and feels like the talent level is strong, especially at the junior level.
“We have some pretty talented guys, especially in the younger group. Six or seven of them will have no problem playing up with the seniors,” Milliken added.
Having talented players will help make up for the lost spring season, a time when many of the legion players would have learned the some of the nuances of the game. Nuances like learning the signs, situational hitting, bunting, base running, defensive positioning and most important, developing the rapport between the pitchers and the catchers.
“In three weeks we are trying to put in everything that we would normally do over the course of the spring season and in the month prior to the legion season starting,” Milliken stated.
The biggest challenge for Milliken and the coaching staff will be managing the pitching staff.
Milliken, a former col
lege pitcher, knows that he is going to have to manage his pitchers differently this summer.
“Ultimately it comes down to communication. We have guys coming in with all different levels of arm strength, so if they are experiencing some arm soreness they will just have to communicate that to the coaches,” Milliken added.
Milliken is blessed to have an experienced coaching staff familiar with baseball in Wahoo.
Chase Stebbing, Brook Stuart, Jon Lanik, Kyle Weyers and TJ Hesser will help at the legion level this season and all have either played or coached on high school or on legion teams in Wahoo.
Last season, the Reds finished with a record of 23-16 and were eliminated from Area tournament play by Springfield.
The Wahoo Pharmacy Blues finished with a record of 13-12 last season and their season ended with a 6-2 loss to Waverly in one of the Class B Area tournaments.