Coming Back From COVID-19: Osage baseball embracing each day in return to the diamond

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Osage senior Connor Arrowood.

The “Coming Back From COVID-19” series will focus on spring sports programs at Camdenton, Osage, Eldon, Versailles, Macks Creek and Climax Springs that saw their seasons stripped away due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. The series will highlight how these programs handled those tough times and their return to action.

A loss to a rival- especially by a single run in the first game of a district tournament- can be a tough way to end a season. 

It is especially tough, considering that same team had to wait two years to just be able to play another game. That was the case for School of the Osage as their last game was played on May 10, 2019, in a 5-4 loss to Eldon in the Class 4 District 10 Tournament. 

Safe to say, the program will be grateful for every day it gets.

“What we learned is that we cannot take anything for granted. Every day is a gift and we have to stay in the present and control the things we can control,” Osage coach David Flaspohler said of the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. "It feels great to be back on the diamond. The sights, sounds and smells of our pastime have been extremely refreshing and we are grateful to be playing a game we are passionate about again.” 

The 2019 Indians finished the year 10-12 overall and saw players like Zechariah Burdette, Austin Duncan, Aaron Hancock, Cameron Heiser, Michael Lasater and Elijah Stark end up playing their final games. Because of the pandemic, previous sophomores are now the new group of seniors and there are a few key players to watch for this season.

Senior Connor Arrowood and junior Dalton Stoecklein will platoon between first base and designated hitter, senior Dominick Vernetti will look to anchor the catcher position, senior Tyler Klee will be relied upon as a pitcher and shortstop and senior Sam Keim returns as a veteran outfielder. 

“We will then rely on a strong sophomore class of 10 athletes who are very versatile,” Flaspohler said of his lineup. 

This group will feature Trey Johnson, Dalton Wall, Konnor Vaughn and Ryan King as right-handed pitchers. Johnson will also see time at third base and both Vaughn and King will also play key utility roles. Flaspohler is also looking forward to seeing the “composure and grit” of Tyler Shull in the infield. There may be some new faces, but the coach said the approach to this new campaign will be the same as any other.

“We want to focus on the things we can control while being champions of character. Our men are hungry and humble, understanding we have a lot of work to do in order to accomplish our team goals,” Flaspohler noted. “Their work ethic and determination exemplifies that.”

Some keys to the season overall will be the speed on the base paths, according to the skipper, while also solidifying the defense to prevent opponents from doing the same. He is encouraged by his players taking the time to improve all aspects of their game. 

“This is one of the qualities as a coaching staff we are excited about- their determination and motivation to improve every day that is driven by their competitiveness and attentiveness during these first couple of weeks,” the coach stated.

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132