WESTFIELD, Ind. — The looks on their faces really do tell the whole story. Many of Indiana's baseball players are back on the diamond again, playing the game they love, and they couldn't be happier.
More than a dozen Hoosiers are playing in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield. The league started last week, and they're all getting their first taste of baseball again after their college season was abruptly cancelled in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And they couldn't be happier.
"We've all been itching to play, so I'm just excited to be here. Everyone is, really,'' said Indiana third baseman Cole Barr, who's playing on a team with Hoosiers Grant Richardson, Cooper Trinkle and Zach Behrmann. "That's the cool thing, that you're playing with a lot of guys you grew up with. I'm with three of my teammates, which is nice, but I know a lot of these other guys, too, between travel ball or growing up around them.
"It's a blast just being out here playing again.''
It's been a long three months for these guys, who are used to playing every day anyway. Their worlds changed instantly back in March, with their season ending and the campus closing as well. Just like that, all these tight-knit teammates had to go their separate ways.
"I was in disbelief, honestly,'' Barr said. "I thought they'd just push it back and we'd be playing in May or something. When they cancelled it, it hit you hard. You put it all that work just to play 10 or 15 games. That was tough.''
Barr went home to Yorktown, Ind., and he's been able to spend a lot of time with his parents and three brothers that he wouldn't normally get this time of year. He said he's been lucky to be able to continue working out on a regular basis.
"Going home was weird at first. This is the longest period time I've lived at home in three years,'' Barr said. "But I get to spend a lot of time around family, and that's been great because usually I've been playing baseball that time of year. It's been nice getting to spend a lot of time with my brothers, and I think my parents like having me home. They haven't seen me this much in several years.
"My cousin has a weight room in his basement, so that hasn't really stopped for me at all. I've been hitting all the time, too. One of my buddies has a place in Indy, so I've been hitting off of live pitching, too.''
Cooper Trinkle, a junior from Columbus, Ind., has missed the game a lot, too. So it's been fun to be back at it. It means a lot.
"Just to be out playing the game we love, it's been great,'' Trinkle said. "Things are getting back to normal a little bit, and it's just nice to be back in the baseball routine again.
"And this is a great league. It's competitive, and there's a lot of great players, but they keep it nice and relaxed too. We're getting a lot of good work in, and we're having fun, too. This is one of the most competitive summer leagues I've ever played in and the facilities here are awesome. They do a great job.''
Barr and Trinkle are both looking forward to getting back to Bloomington in a few months, and picking up where they left off in 2021. Indiana's baseball program is on the rise, which is why they all hated to see last season end so abruptly.
"We had things to win, things to do, so that was really disappointing,'' Barr said. "Me personally, I had a lot to prove, and I was really looking forward to it. It was hard to have it just yanked away like that.''
Trinkle said he felt bad for the seniors that had to watch their college careers end that way.
"It was tough ending so fast like it did, especially for the older guys in the room, because you just didn't know what if anything was going to happen next for them,'' Trinkle said. "I'm glad a few of them are able to come back for another year.
"We just have a really great group of guys at Indiana, and we love playing together. It was so hard having that taken away from us, but life goes on and we'll be back. It's great to be back at it again.
"This is what we do, and it's great to finally be doing it again.''
Grand Park Summer League
- INDIANA PLAYERS: Drew Ashley, Cole Barr, Zach Behrmann, Casper Clark, Brian Gaffney, Kip Fougerousse, Connor Manous, Garrett Manous, Tyler Nelson, Grant Richardson, Cooper Trinkle, Reese Sharp, Tommy Sommer, Dylan Steele, Braydon Tucker, Ethan Vecrumba, Craig Yoho
- WHEN: Teams play two games a day on Mondays and Tuesdays, at 11 a.m. at 2 p.m, and the season runs through Aug. 8 Admission is free, and social distancing practices are in place, including in the bleachers.
- WHERE: Grand Park is in Westfield, Ind., just west of U.S. 31 on 191st Street.
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