COLUMBUS (WCMH) — In Seth Lonsway’s first year on the mound at Ohio State, he led all D-I freshmen with 126 strikeouts.
Expectations were high for 2020, and to start the season, the redshirt sophomore was living up to them, striking out double-digit batters in three out of his four starts.
Then, the coronavirus shut everything down 14 games into the season.
“A lot of guys were emotional, as was I. It was hard to kind of take that news that day,” Lonsway said. “We put a lot of hard work into preparing for the season, so to get the news that the season was done, it was very hard.”
Now, Lonsway has to decide if his college career is done as well. He is draft-eligible this year and is projected to be a second-round pick. He had hoped his 2020 campaign would maybe boost his positioning. Instead, the southpaw is at home in Celina, Ohio, doing workouts in his basement to make sure the scouts see his performance isn’t heading south.
“I just want them to see my work ethic,” he said. “You know, right now I’m doing everything I can to get my body in the best condition and the best shape possible, so just seeing my work ethic and everything I can invest into this game has been a big part of my life and a big part of my development.”
Lonsway isn’t the only Buckeye with a big stay-or-go decision.
The NCAA is granting spring sport athletes an extra year of eligibility, and Ohio State is going a step further by honoring those scholarships.
“The choice that our seniors have is great, and it’s a choice that [OSU athletic director] Gene Smith has provided for them,” said Buckeyes head baseball coach Greg Beals. “I don’t know how many departments are going to be honoring the scholarship, and the scholarship a lot of times allows it to happen or not happen. So that actually makes it a choice.”
Coaches like Beals are happy for their players, and excited to potentially get an extra season with them, but it does add some logistical challenges.
“It’s gonna get challenging in the next couple of years as we manage our rosters because, like you said, there’s a backlog,” Beals said on a conference call. “I have nine freshmen that are being reclassified as freshmen, and then I’ve got 11 freshmen coming in – I’m going to have a freshmen class of 20. That 20 class is going to stay with me the next four years. So there’s some challenges there.”
And it’s not just working around the numbers in a recruiting class, but numbers on game day – when that comes about again.
“While the roster will be thick and strong, my lineup card has still only got nine slots on it,” explained Beals. “So that’s where coach and player just need to make sure we’re communicating very well together.”
That communication will be critical for the players like Seth who are deciding whether to go pro or come back to college. He said right now, the biggest challenge is trying to figure out what information is real and what questions can be answered.
“They said the draft is gonna be in July, but there’s no for-sure date yet, so, not being able to compete right now it’s kinda a weird situation. We just gotta treat it like an offseason and prepare for what’s next, whenever that is,” he said. “It is kinda nerve-wracking at times but you just gotta trust that there’s gonna be baseball again eventually. We don’t know that is but eventually, games are going to be played. So you just gotta keep believing in that and keep trusting that we’re going to have baseball again.”