Northern Lakes League shines bright in baseball senior games

BOWLING GREEN - Your entire spring baseball season was wiped out and there was no chance it could be made up. It was the harsh reality for area high school baseball players in March. The season was supposed to be filled with opening days, doubleheaders, and senior nights. COVID-19 had other plans and spring high school seasons were canceled.

Coaches couldn't coach. Players couldn't play. Parents couldn't cheer. Some of those players were seniors. Their final game was already played and they didn't even know it. Some continued to do drills and workouts but without actual games on the horizon it was difficult for them to power through. That was until Perrysburg head coach Dave Hall had an idea.

What if we had a senior-only showcase made up of teams in our league, the Northern Lakes League?

"These seniors went through a lot. They didn't get to graduate normally. They didn't have a prom or a baseball season and they worked hard all winter and this is a small way to get them together one time in what I think is one of the best leagues in Ohio," Hall said.

The NLL has eight teams so they'd have to combine programs to form a total of four teams that would play in a doubleheader set for June 22nd at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

The idea was presented to school athletic directors. They gave it their okay but it also had to get approved by the Ohio Governor's office and then by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Once certain COVID-19 restrictions were lifted the games were set to go and the idea became a resounding success.

Rivals Perrysburg and Maumee came together to form one team. Same for Northview and Southview. Logan Danzeisen, a Southview pitcher who will play for Purdue next season, said, "It was awesome, especially playing with Northview, [my] childhood buddies. I've played with them since I was 12. It's awesome, the greatest experience ever."

That was the sentiment among all the players. "This means the world to me. These are my boys. I'd love to come back for a full season but one game is enough for me. Being at Carter Park here is great. I probably won't play here ever again. I grew up here and the memories here are shared with all these guys and it means a lot," Kyle Jackson said. He's a Bowling Green shortstop bound for Kent State later this fall.

Anthony Wayne's Hogan Heck added, "It was a last hurrah. We didn't have a season but we're out here with all of our guys."

Tim Dunn helped organize the event. "With what everybody went through this March and April, just to give a short window of a season is just awesome. You just felt the energy tonight," Dunn explained.

If you thought the showcase games were just a fun, we're-glad-to-be-here type of event, you'd be right but the competitive juices were definitely flowing in the bodies and minds of the players. Luke Borer, a Perrysburg outfielder, who plays for the summer travel Bo Jackson Elite team, based in Columbus, said he returned from a tournament in Cincinnati a day early in order to prepare and rest for his senior showcase game. "I wanted to play with my teammates one more time and I wanted to play my best," he said.

Borer's team did win, 14-8 over a team made up of Anthony Wayne and Napoleon seniors. Bowling Green and Springfield teamed up to take down Northview and Southview 6-3.