Purdue's Ben Nisle Thrilled to be Playing Baseball Again


WESTFIELD, Ind. — The daily routine is something that gets engrained in baseball players, and when that goes away, it takes some adjusting. It's true for everybody, at every level.

And it's certainly no different for Purdue outfielder Ben Nisle. The junior from Schererville, Ind., was like a fish out of water when the Boilermakers' baseball season was abruptly cancelled in mid-March because of the COVID-19. The season had barely started — Nisle and Purdue had played only 14 games — when the door was slammed shut.

"It was one of the weirdest things that's probably ever happened,'' said Nisle, who started all 14 games this season for the Boilers, hitting .320. "We were out there practicing, getting ready to go to Evansville, and one of our baseball administrators came down and told us the season was cancelled, and we we like, 'what?'

"It took a good week or so to sink in. It was weird just leaving.''

Nisle, who had a great high school career at Lake Central, went back home and tried to stay as active as he could, but it wasn't easy.

"I went back home and I did a lot in the back yard with my brother (Alex),'' Nisle said, "He played at St. Joe's and Trinity Christian. We'd play long toss, we'd run, hit off a tee, we'd soft toss, just things like that, whatever we could do, basically, to stay busy. 

There's nothing quite like being back out on the field, though, going through the routines with teammates and seeing live pitching again. Nisle is playing in the College Summer League in at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. They play two seven-inning doubleheaders every Monday and Wednesday. The 12-team league started two weeks ago and runs through early August, and it's loaded with top-flight college players.

"It's great getting back into things after three months of trying to get work in on your own. That was tough,'' said Nisle, who is playing with three Purdue teammates — Jack Firestone, Miles Simington and Tanner Haston — on his team. "The spring training was nice, and I'm still trying to getting everything figured out, but we're  getting there.

"There's definitely some dudes out there. There's good pitchers out here, good players. It's a good league.''

Nisle is 5-for-12 so far at the plate — a .417 average — with a double and a triple. He's happy with how it's going so far, especially after the long layoff

''It's not bad (so far. I'm getting there,'' Nisle said. "The swing's a little off, but it's getting there. Just seeing the ball is good, and the timing is coming back. Everything is getting there.''

Grand Park Summer League

  • PURDUE PLAYERS: Jake Stadler, Reece Rodabaugh, Jack Firestone, Tanner Haston, Miles Simington, Weston Gingerich, Spencer Schriner,
  • 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.