Even with his senior baseball season lost because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Canal Winchester catcher Ben Stevens hasn't skipped a beat in preparing for his college career at Capital.
Stevens has continued workouts with current and former teammates, including 2017 graduate and Gardner-Webb pitcher Luke Williamson, both to stay sharp and maintain a routine in lieu of what he had hoped would be a strong final season with the Indians.
"I've been trying to keep the joints moving, kind of, (and) keep my body in shape to prepare myself for the next level," Stevens said. "(When it comes to) the speed of the ball, (Williamson) definitely throws harder than a lot of pitchers on this team.
"I need to work on adjusting to speed on the outside corner, at the top of the zone, working my body into blocking a fastball that's in the dirt. He's really helped me with watching the ball leave his hand. If I was hitting, what speed will I see? How will my eyes adjust to moving the glove or putting the barrel of the bat on the ball?"
Stevens has been the Indians' starting catcher since midway through his sophomore season. He batted .377 that year and this season hoped to rebound offensively after batting .268 with 22 hits and 10 RBI as a junior.
Stevens split time between baseball and football, in which he was a two-way tackle, until after his freshman year.
Canal Winchester coach Tyler Kuhn said a game against Bloom-Carroll early in the 2018 season in which Stevens caught classmate Reece Klamorick indicated Stevens had lofty potential.
"The way he controlled the running game and the way he was swinging (the bat), he was pretty much a mainstay from that moment," Kuhn said. "You have to be really good up the middle -- you have to have a really good catcher, a really good shortstop and a really good center fielder. Those three positions are so vital in high school baseball.
"When Ben came to us as a freshman, he was a good-sized athlete who was playing football at the time. He looked like a catcher."
The Indians went 16-9 overall and 9-5 in the OCC-Capital Division two years ago and finished 14-14 overall and 9-6 in the league last year, losing to Olentangy Liberty 6-1 in a Division I district semifinal.
Kuhn projected that Stevens would have hit third, fourth or fifth in the order this season, but more importantly to him, would have been a veteran anchor for a rotation projected to include a handful of sophomores.
According to Kuhn, Stevens embraced working with the younger pitches during the winter.
"It might be hard to get a senior to go behind the (plate) and catch a kid who might not be varsity-relevant. He never complained. He loved to catch," Kuhn said. "He was always the first kid with his gear on and I think other kids saw that."
Stevens shrugged off any credit, saying that was part of his job.
"They looked up to me and a lot of the seniors as leaders, but being on varsity for three years, they know I've seen a lot," Stevens said. "I know what varsity is like. They were like, 'Show me your ways.'"