Boys of Spring finally return

The Boys of Spring are finally back.
Yuma High School’s baseball team will open its shortened Season D on Tuesday when the Indians travel to Akron for a Lower Platte Activities Association doubleheader.
It will be their first game since losing a close decision to Wiggins in the Class 2A regional finals in May of 2019.
“We haven’t played now for almost two years,” head coach Brady Nighswonger said. “Usually you have a good idea of where you’re at, but we haven’t had these guys in a live competition for nearly two years now.”
Yuma was poised last season to make another run to the state tournament, featuring several talented seniors. The Indians were about to start their season when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and all spring sports were cancelled.
“It definitely hit the spring sports the hardest,” Nighswonger said. “I know (track coach) Lucas (Lubbers), and I and the girls golf, are excited to get going again. It’s nice to have the hope of being able to get out there and play again”
The players got in some outdoor work last summer, but did not play any competitive games. With the late start this season, they have been able to get in some preseason work prior to the official start of practice this past Monday.
One positive of the revamped sports seasons for the 2020-21 school year, is the spring sports might enjoy more nicer weather conditions with the seasons being in May and June — avoiding the sometimes-brutal weather in late March and April.
However, it also means just 16 games in the regular season, with 13 of those being LPAA contests.
Speaking of which, Nighswonger said it also is difficult to gauge how the league will be since the Indians have not seen the other teams in two years. He said he assumes Wray likely will be the frontrunner for the league crown, based on the Eagles’ returning players, but it is unknown after that.
“I really don’t know what everybody has,” Nighswonger said.
He does know that baseball is a difficult game to pick up again. Of upmost concern is getting pitching arms in shape again. Expect the Yuma pitchers to be kept on a short leash through the first weeks of the season.
“The big key in baseball is arms,” Nighswonger said. “Hopefully there are some surprises in there with guys that have maybe gotten stronger over the past year.”
He also noted hitting, fielding and throwing requires a lot of repetition.
“It’s not easy to make contact, so we need to shake off some rust,” Nighswonger said.
There are about 20 players out for baseball, which is a bit lower than usual. The roster includes only one senior, Cade Morton. Nighswonger said he was not sure yet where everyone would fit in the lineup.
“We’ll definitely have a better idea this week (after practices),” he said. “We have some real good pieces where we can have a competitive team.”
Ready or not, the season starts Tuesday, May 4, at Akron.