COVID-19 signage welcomed Fort Calhoun American Legion ballplayers to their home field Monday on the first day of the shortened summer season.
The Post 348 Pioneers and their opponents will have to adhere to more than just the rules of America's Pastime to play come June 18, when Nebraska's Directed Health Measures allow for games, but high school coach Roy Prauner started Monday's session by getting right to that point. Notably, he asked players if they had their own helmets, which is a suggested measure for teams to take.
From there, though, coaches Brandon Wynn, Brennan Clausen and Jim Fern oversaw a, seemingly, close-to-normal start to practice. Players spread out to play catch, stretching out their arms, before they were separated into position-group workouts.
“Remember baseball?” Wynn said as the infielders and outfielders took the field in opposite directions.
Catcher Kaden Therkildsen, who earned Class B all-state honorable mention in 2019, blocked low pitches on his own, while Cole Klabunde went through first base work.
Justin Myer, Jake Seina, Ty Hallberg, Zach Faucher, Tylan Conner and Joel Fern were also among the Pioneers' key returners who were on the diamond and in the outfield Monday. The last time they played baseball games together was last July when Fort Calhoun went 0-2 during the Class B Area 3 Tournament.
Though the losses ended their season, the Pioneers finished with back-to-back strong performances. Faucher threw 102 pitches against the eventual state champion Bennington squad during the 8-4 opener before his team made a near-comeback against Arlington in an elimination game. Post 348 lost 11-9, but outhit the Eagles 15-7. Six errors were its downfall.
Fort Calhoun finished 6-15 overall, but on an upswing. The team was 0-17 during the 2019 high school season.