EAGLE LAKE, Minn. (KEYC) — The Mankato Royals 18U baseball team, formerly known as Mankato National before the American Legion season was canceled due to COVID-19, returned to the field for the first time in three months on Monday.
The team was given the green light to practice, but the 2020 season is still not guaranteed.
“We’re hoping that, you know, we can start games right around July 1 with approval from Governor Walz,” Head Coach Jamie Mulvihall said.
Mulvihall says they’re looking to have at a 15-game regular season in July.
Day one of practice was all geared towards following social distancing protocols and easing into play.
“Main focus is getting my arm back in shape. That’s probably everybody’s main focus because we haven’t thrown a baseball in a couple of months or had any practices or games in a couple of months, so just knocking all the rust off, getting back in shape with my arm,” explained catcher Caleb Fogal, who also plays for Mankato Loyola.
“Getting back into mid-season form, I know we’re taking it slow, but usually most guys through the school ball season - you’re right in mid-season form, so just getting back to there as soon as possible,” former Mankato West second baseman Ben Maes said.
The squad is a fusion of players from Mankato West and Mankato Loyola that features four seniors, with the remaining players entering their junior year of high school.
“We’ll be a relatively young team, so really it’s just trying to get them ready and get in the swing of things, so they’re not off for a year and a half before they can play baseball again,” Mulvihall said.
Of course, with the halt to the spring sports season, just being back on the field as a team is enough normalcy to put a smile on faces.
“It’s awesome being back out here with my teammates. I mean, I love those guys. They’re like brothers and it’s great to be back out here playing baseball with all my friends," Fogal added.