Ohio State junior infielder Conner Pohl (39) runs toward third base after a home run during the game against Michigan on April 12, 2019. Ohio State won 10-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

It was one month ago that Ohio State baseball got the news that its season was canceled, and questions followed as to what was next for the program, its players and the sport itself. 

Now the team has received clarity, from player eligibility to how they can stay in shape, and the Buckeyes have their sights on continuing to reach their goals in 2021. 

“Guys have a great excuse to sit around and watch Netflix all day long, but that’s not going to get you any better. That’s not going to get you any closer to your goals or dreams,” head coach Greg Beals said. “I’m really challenging them on their response factor.”

With public gyms currently closed due to COVID-19, a few players are facing challenges staying in shape without the equipment provided at the university. 

Instead, the team is encouraging ingenuity and working with what is available. 

“It’s just all about being creative, honestly. Using all kinds of stuff and trying to figure out what will work to stay in shape,” senior infielder Conner Pohl said. 

Beals said the players have an opportunity to demonstrate their will to work, especially when there isn’t a coach there to push them along. 

“I challenge them to be their own best CEO,” Beals said.

At this point in the season, the Buckeyes would have been in the middle of their conference schedule and capping off a series at Michigan originally slated for Friday through Sunday. 

The seniors on the team had to wait to find out if they would get another chance at facing their rival next season, but the NCAA announced extended eligibility for all spring sports March 30.

That doesn’t mean all of Ohio State’s seniors will return, however. Players with jobs lined up or other post-graduate plans will have to decide if it’s worth putting things on hold for another year for one more baseball season.

Pohl said he is “for sure” coming back, while redshirt senior infielder Matt Carpenter is still deciding his future with the program.

Carpenter said he sees his decision as a team decision as much as it is personal, considering the impact returning seniors will have on the roster and the future of the program.

“There is going to be a big challenge, just from a roster management standpoint,” Beals said. 

The next four baseball seasons will, in essence, have one additional class’ worth of players.

While the NCAA granted additional scholarships for all spring sports and extra roster space for baseball, this also means there will be more competition for contributing roles on the team.

Pohl, Carpenter and Beals agree that the situation is out of their hands. From the abrupt ending of the season to the extension of eligibility, “you control what you can control,” Beals said.

“From a player standpoint, we just have to put our head down, stay focused and keep moving forward and keep doing what we can to be in the best position possible to succeed next year,” Carpenter said. 

Beals said that over the past month, the team went from “100 to zero.” Coming back from its spring break series against North Florida and preparing for its 2020 home opener against Liberty, Ohio State baseball’s momentum was halted by COVID-19.

The team is still finding ways to make the most of its situation, slowly getting back into gear, and looking forward to its return to Bill Davis Stadium in 2021.