The Watertown-Mayer baseball team was looking forward to the 2020 season, boasting a roster full of seniors who have been playing varsity for multiple years.
“This was going to be a year where we could make a run,” coach Ryan Trucke said. “We have a big group of talented seniors and a good group of underclassmen.”
While the postponement of the season due to COVID-19 has dampened spirits a bit, the Royals are still hopeful they can turn their potential into a promising season.
“We came into the season really excited, expecting it to be a lot of fun, we expected to get a lot of wins,” senior Ansen Dulas said. “If we get a season, we will definitely make the most of it and go as hard as we can.”
Dulas is one of nine seniors and three players set to play college baseball. Dulas has committed to Southwest Minnesota State University.
“He is a very good pitcher and has a top-10 curveball in Minnesota,” Trucke said. “He’s going to get a chance to hit in college too.”
Jackson Meyer is set to play at Northern State University.
“Jackson is a tremendous short stop defensively - he has great hands and great feet - that’s ultimately what makes him standout - his defense is unbelievable,” said Trucke. “He’s a good runner and a good hunter, and has a chance to play shortstop or second base.”
Nick Trucke rounds out the seniors that are expected to play college ball. A catcher for the Royals, Nick Trucke has several DII offers but is looking for a chance to play DI, which would be aided by the senior getting one more year to lead the Royals at the plate.
“Nick throws well, blocks well and manages pitchers well,” said Ryan Trucke. “He is a very, very good hitter. He led the team in hitting by a significant margin and college teams are looking at him for his hitting.”
Those three are leading a talented team that is expecting great things from a variety of players, should they get a chance to get on the field this year.
“This particular team and class is a very sound, baseball class – for many of them, it is their primary sport,” Ryan Trucke said. “If we get a season, they will be very competitive.”
And while those three players will get a chance to continue their careers, and legion ball or town ball being possible options for others over the summer, the Royals would like to play with their teammates more than anything, in a season that looks so promising.
“We’ve been playing together since fifth or sixth grade, some even earlier, and it’s not just a team, we’re all friends,” Dulas said. “That’s what makes it baseball for me - being around all of my teammates. Whatever happens on the field will happen, but you make a lot of memories.”
The players are just itching to get back out on the field, as shown by their April workout. The Royals are competing in an April 3K challenge, where the athletes are trying to do 100 situps, 100 pushups, 100 squats and 100 skaters per day, a total of 3,000 for the month of April. Dulas said a lot of players are already making significant progress toward the final goal of 3,000 for each exercise, as they are looking forward to getting back to baseball.
“We want to do something other than just work out, we want to get out and play,” he said.
And while practice has been postponed until atleast May 4, the optimist can look at the bright side, one that is normally a downside for Minnesota athletes in the spring. The season starting late is not unusual for spring sports. Just 2 years ago, the Royals only had one day of competition in the month of April, with snowfalls pushing almost the entirety of the season into May.
“As baseball people we are conditioned to adapt,” Ryan Trucke said. “Baseball schedules of 20 games are finalized in September knowing that 75 percent of the games and practices will be impacted by weather. We adapt, we adjust and then we proceed forward at full speed.”
But the cruel irony of the situation this year is that the weather has been nearly perfect for a Minnesota baseball team.
“It’s not that unusual to start this late, but the struggle this year is that we could have been out by now,” Dulas said.
And while games will eventually go on at some point, whether it be legion ball, town ball or college ball for the lucky few, the Royals are hoping they can get some sort of time on the diamond together.
“It would be nice to get one last hoorah,” said Dulas.