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Senior players would receive roster preference if Legion league returns this summer

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion High School's Bob Brack Stadium is set to host the American Legion tournament and the 4A All-Star Series this summer if high school athletics resume in time.In the unknowable state of the 2020 spring athletic season, the North Marion baseball program is making sure its senior players know they'll have a place on the team when sports resumes — even during the summer.

Following the news from the OSAA that spring sports would be suspended through April 28 at the earliest, the coaching staff for the Huskies reached out to parents and team members to let them know that program's American Legion summer season would be dedicated to its senior players if sports picks up later this year.

"We've got five seniors, and four of them were basketball players," head coach Randy Brack said. "One of them is a three-year varsity guy. It's just kind of a thing where you give them the opportunity to at least say they played their senior year."

As such, Brack wants to make sure that his senior players will be able to enjoy their final season at Bob Brack Stadium as much as possible, given the situation. As in previous years, the Huskies are planning on playing American Legion baseball over the summer. While seniors are allowed to play on the Legion team, in past years, many are gone for the summer as they prepare for college, allowing the underclassmen to build additional experience.

"We want graduating seniors to play this summer if they can and want to," the North Marion coaching staff wrote on a Facebook post on Wednesday, March 18. "We want you to experience your senior season, and we will treat summer ball as such if need be."

The current state of spring athletics is nebulous at best. The suspended season would eliminate 16 of the Huskies' 24-game schedule should baseball start immediately upon return on April 29. While the season has not yet been officially canceled, discussions with the OSAA indicate that if the season returns, it will be under a heavily modified and truncated schedule.

"We're pretty much going to throw everything out the window as far as the way it was before," Brack said. "They give you a couple of warmup games, and then we get into more of a set schedule, and I assume it'll be more of a league schedule.

PMG FILE PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - The athletic facilities at North Marion High School are closed to the public amid Gov. Kate Brown's statewide closure of schools through April 28."That depends on some of the OSAA people if they decide to extend the school year a little bit longer, it'll give us a little more of a buffer to extend the season a little longer," he continued. "You're not going to be able to play a 24-game schedule. It'll be more of an abbreviated schedule."

How that will look remains to be seen. Coaches can use social media to stay in touch with players, their family and the baseball community. But with direct coaching is prohibited and the North Marion athletic facilities closed, players will need an opportunity to practice if and when spring athletics returns at the end of April.

Beyond the high school season, baseball at North Marion extends into summer, where Bob Brack Stadium is scheduled to be the home of the American Legion Tournament in addition to the annual 4A All-Star Series.

Brack can keep the field groomed and manicured if baseball returns, and with the favorable weather conditions in March, the facilities look better than ever.

"It looks too good," Brack said. "It needs to have some scars on it from playing on it.

"I'm allowed to go out and still mow and take care of it, and I've been doing that," he continued. "But it's kind of a lonely feeling. I'm used to having visitors and having people come out and talk."

For now, the Huskies, along with the rest of the athletically-minded student in the state are in a holding pattern waiting to hear the fate of the season. In that light, Brack admits that pining for the return of baseball is a relatively small concern in the greater picture as states across the country are shutting down all non-essential gatherings, business and travel.

"As much as we love the athletics and sports, whatever season it is, this is a grain of sand compared to all the problems going on in the world right now," Brack said. "It's our little world, but there's a whole lot more things that are more important than what happens with baseball."

But whenever the COVID-19 crisis blows over, the North Marion community will be excited to usher baseball back into existence, in whatever form it takes.

"I think it'll be such a relief for everybody to be able to go and watch," Brack said. "It will be just a feel-good time. It'll be so much needed by that time."

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