Mayville State baseball deals with recruiting during a pandemic
MAYVILLE, N.D. -- Ten of the 55 players on the Mayville State University baseball roster this spring were from Canada. To keep that talent pipeline going, Comets coach Scott Berry will rely more on his Canadian contacts this year.
The border crossings between the United States and Canada currently are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as that continues, Berry won’t be able to go and recruit in Canada, a long-time source for talent for the Comets program.
But the Comets’ long history of recruiting Canadian players could pay off now.
“We have sources there,’’ Berry said. “We’ve consistently recruited in Canada. That works in our favor.
“We have former players up there who can help out and assist with our recruiting. Our baseball alums are very helpful. We’re talking to guys who have been here playing at our school, who know the caliber of players we look for.’’
Berry had eight players, all North Dakota high school seniors, signed before the pandemic hit. That remains the number of commitments the Comets have.
“Typically we have more committed by this time of the year. But the number varies from year to year,’’ said Berry, who isn’t sure what impact the pandemic has had on recruiting.
This year’s Comets roster included 17 players from North Dakota. After Canada, the next most-recruited areas were California and Washington. Each state had seven players on the roster.
Berry said most of the players from those states are junior-college transfers. Much of that part of the recruiting is done through word-of-mouth with coaches the Comets staff knows. It’s a wait-and-see situation.
“Are they going to be picked up by a Division I program?’’ Berry said. “Will they be picked up by Division II or Division III programs from out west? When they have those answers, then we recruit them over the summer. They don’t think about a program like ours until they go through the process.
“We are pretty well connected in those states. Sometimes we see (those recruits); more often we don’t. We rely on our sources.’’
Mayville State’s baseball team should be well stocked for the 2020-21 school year. Of the 11 seniors on this season’s roster, seven have indicated they plan to come back and play next school year.
The pandemic’s biggest impact of the recruiting process may happen during the 2020-21 school year.
This year’s seniors have been seen and scouted. With American Legion baseball canceled for the summer across the country, Berry said college coaches will lose opportunities to see this year’s junior players.
“There are kids who come out of the woodworks in their junior and senior years,’’ Berry said. “They’re late bloomers you’d like to see now.
“You get a lot of kids now who you’re thinking, ‘Where’d he come from?’ Kids grow as baseball players. They mature physically. That’s the group we’re not seeing.’’
The 64-year-old Berry just completed his 39th season as the Comets’ head coach. He’s seen the recruiting process expand.
“Most years now, recruiting will be a lot of our fingers dialing phone numbers,’’ Berry said. “It will be even more of that now.’’