The Ohio Valley League summer collegiate baseball season is, for now, scheduled to be played from late May through early August, according to the official OVL website.
“These are tough times,” Owensboro RiverDawgs manager Vic Evans Jr. said, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation and world. “Throughout history, we can point to instances where sports in general has brought the country together after tough times — it tends to unify and heal, and I hope we can help serve that purpose this summer.
“But there’s still so much we don’t know and we’re still taking everything one day at a time. I feel for everyone out there.”
Even though there has been no KHSAA spring sports baseball season, and college seasons were cut short, Evans said there is no shortage of interest to play OVL baseball this summer — in fact, it’s been just the opposite.
“In the last three weeks, it’s been 20-fold on calls and texts from athletes wanting to play,” Evans said. “Some who wouldn’t have wanted to play otherwise now want to play because their spring seasons were cut short or they didn’t play at all.
“Plus, there’s the aspect of college seniors who may be able to come back and play their senior seasons next year, which would make them eligible to play in the OVL an extra year as well.”
A rule change made by the OVL after the 2019 season should prove fortuitous.
“The OVL voted after last season to expand rosters by five from 25 to 30 players, with teams carrying an active roster of 27,” Evans said. “This is going to allow more players to play in the OVL this summer and, of course, it couldn’t come at a better time.”
Among the returning RiverDawgs Evans expects back are pitcher-outfielder Ian Ellis, closer Drake Hamil, and starting pitcher Parker Newby.
There are, however, logistical challenges to work out for the OVL.
“One of the problems will be coming up with enough host families for our players.” Evans said of a topic that will likely be discussed at the next OVL owners meeting on April 25. “Each team will have to look at their own situation on this matter.”
In addition, the league may be forced to revise its schedule.
“One thing to consider is that when or if we are able to play, it will have been a long time since players had been out on the field playing, a long time since pitchers had pitched,” Evans said. “So, we may have to have some sort of preseason workouts in front of the season.
“And, of course, we the league may have to push back the start of the season if need be. We’re going to be following state and CDC guidelines on this.”
If the OVL does get up and running as planned this summer, Evans expects great crowds.
“If we do get to play, I think there’s a great chance we’ll set OVL attendance records,” Evans said. “By that time, people are going to be itching to get out and watch baseball so much.”