ROSEMOUNT — Clay’s Clay Cottle, Minford’s Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis and Valley’s Breckon Williams decided that they couldn’t play enough baseball this summer.
And after all, who can blame them — given the cancellation of their Ohio High School Athletic Association spring season this past year, part of the statewide response to the coronavirus threat.
At least all three were juniors, so they will have —hopefully — a senior season to savor come next year.
However, they are the boys of summer for the here and now — as Cottle, Vogelsong-Lewis and Williams are spending the dogs days of late June and all of July on the diamond, and in across the Ohio River as members of the Huntington Hounds.
The Hounds, which doubled up the Portsmouth Post 23 Senior squad on Tuesday in their first non-scrimmage contest, are a Huntington (W. Va.) based 17-and-under travel team — which plays almost exclusively in weekend tournaments.
They are scheduled to play 40 games in July with a tournament taking place every weekend into the initial weekend in August.
So far, the Hounds have been scrimmaging against other teams in their travel program, including their 15-and-16-year-old unit.
“There’s a lot of baseball ahead. We have a tournament every weekend in July,” said Vogelsong-Lewis. “Our Hounds’ schedule is hectic and the coronavirus set it back. We’ll be squeezing in a lot of games at once.”
However, neither he, nor Cottle or Williams will be complaining.
Williams was battling a tear in his labrum, but as of Tuesday was cleared to play.
“I’m just happy with having the opportunity to play this summer,” he said. “I was very relieved by the news that we could play. So far, practice has been very solid with us and I have a lot of hope with this season.”
Between all three competing for their high school clubs, combined with the Hounds’ heavy schedule, it’s almost as if they are engaged in the national pastime seven days a week.
“I’m enjoying it 100-percent. Baseball has been my first love ever since I first picked up a baseball. If I stopped now, then I don’t know what I would do,” said Cottle. “Travel ball is more locked in, getting runners in and trying to win games and tournaments.”
Cottle, already a veteran of travel ball, is in his fourth season playing for the Hounds — while Williams is in his first and Vogelsong-Lewis his second.
Cottle’s father, Clay head coach Marc Cottle, is also the Hounds’ pitching coach —as the group is skippered by Jason Holmes, who is also a professional scout for the Colorado Rockies organization of Major League Baseball.
Cottle and Williams are mainly middle infielders, although Cottle can pitch some — along with Vogelsong-Lewis.
Speaking of the Minford standout, he starts regularly in center-field and bats in the three-spot.
“Elijah is just Elijah. That’s all I have to say about him,” said Cottle, with a grin. “He can do it all.”
And not just in baseball, either.
Vogelsong-Lewis is also the Falcons’ all-Ohio dual-threat quarterback, as regular football workouts were permitted to begin this past week.
He said he is attending as many of those as well, but baseball is the top of his totem pole.
“Baseball is number one. It’s my ticket to college, so I have to play my cards. I do love football too, and if I was 6-foot-5 and big and strong, I would play football (in college),” said Vogelsong-Lewis. “But I am just blessed to be able to play baseball this year.”
So too were Williams and Cottle.
As Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced in mid-May, baseball is one of a handful of statewide sports —because of its limited contact nature —that could “reopen” following Memorial Day.
That “reopening”, part of DeWine’s “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan, includes both mandatory and recommended guidelines for baseball and softball leagues and golf course and tennis courts operators — and took effect on Tuesday, May 26.
The OHSAA cancelled its spring sports seasons for 2020 on April 20, and there was widespread worry and believable speculation that summer baseball wouldn’t be happening in Ohio.
“I was very disappointed when I heard about the (spring) season being cancelled. I was nervous with the chance of not having a summer ball season, because I feel like I have big chances of being looked at by colleges,” said Williams.
“It sucks we didn’t have our spring season this year, because our team was going to be the best that we’ve had in a while. We will lose a lot of seniors, but hopefully next year we can keep the momentum going we’ve had the past few years,” echoed Cottle.
The past few years, outside of the high school season, Scioto County’s connection of the Huntington Hounds has remained busy with baseball.
Quite frankly, and the trio will vouch, but they can’t get enough at-bats or fly balls or grounders for this campaign.
“It’s been great. It’s been fun playing with and meeting a lot of new people. I’ve known them (Cottle and Williams) for a long time. They are great to hang out with and they make stepping on the field even better,” said Vogelsong-Lewis. “Just thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to be able to practice and play with some people I know out of state. Still swinging, throwing and running to stay in shape.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved