Spring sports in 2021 will be very unusual for all teams coming back to action after almost two years away from the game, and Whitehall baseball will be no exception.
The Vikings bring back only three players who were on the varsity team the last time a season was played in 2019, all seniors - catcher Aiden Raymond, shortstop Cayden Ritchie and outfielder Connor Young. Siena Heights signee Christian Smolen hasn't played a varsity game yet, but he should also be among the Vikings' key players as well.
Longtime Whitehall coach Warren Zweigle might need name tags to recognize some players early on - the varsity and JV games almost always take place on the same days but in different locations, so he hasn't seen many of his guys in game action - but he's excited to get back out on the field after the heartbreak of losing the 2020 season to COVID-19.
"I think we all took the opportunity to play baseball a little for granted," Zweigle said. "We don't ever want to do that again. We just want to get back out there and enjoy every second we can on the diamond."
Player performances might be even more of a question mark than usual given the lack of in-game reps, although Zweigle said some Vikings have been able to get off-season work in since the fall.
The schedule is less of a question this year - the Vikings are just glad to play at all - but they'll get their chances against some larger schools outside of the usual West Michigan Conference slate. The season opener is Monday at Coopersville, and games against Fruitport (at Marsh Field), Ludington, Holland, Fremont and Big Rapids are also among the highlights. In the league, Oakridge is a perennial favorite and rival Montague always creates fun matchups.
"We really just feel fortunate to be back out on the diamond playing games," Zweigle said. We always look forward to playing Montague. "We are really excited to reconnect kids with baseball."