Huntington’s baseball team has had to overcome more than any other program over the last year, including Covid-19, schedule issues, and head coach Mike Frame having to sit out this season.
By Ryan Walker │February 15, 2021
It was Friday morning on March 13, 2020. Huntington University’s baseball team was ready to leave for Goshen College that afternoon to play the first of three games that weekend. Shortly after, the Crossroads League announced that the season was canceled due to Covid-19. Coach Mike Frame called a team meeting to give information on the news that abruptly ended the season, as the sports world was slowly beginning to tumble.
The room was filled with silence, as the future was uncertain in not only baseball, but life. The coaches explained that the season was canceled and that the school may have to shut down and continue online by Spring Break.
Fast-forward to nearly a year later, and the 2021 NAIA baseball season is underway, for most schools at least.
“Baseball, especially in the north, is used to overcoming obstacles all of the time.” associate head coach Thad Frame said.
In a covid-19 free world, the Midwest is used to cancelation issues, and this is no different for the Foresters. Last season, the six games scheduled from February 7 to February 14 were canceled due to rain, delaying the season by a week. Other schools in the NAIA had been playing for two weeks at that point, as Huntington had to sit and wait their turn.
The start of this season has been the same story, as the first weekend was supposed to be played in Cincinnati, Ohio, to play on Friday and Saturday, but due to cold temperatures, Frame decided to find games elsewhere. The solution was to play in Dayton, Tenn., instead, but was canceled an hour before they were set to take off on Thursday.
The second week of scheduled games has been more of the same story, canceling a series in Georgia during the week and Tennessee on the weekend due to icy roads and snow. To add to the mess, coach Frame found a four-game series to play in North Carolina the weekend of February 19, but got canceled hours before takeoff.
The team now has had five series cancel within two weeks, but are now slated to leave for Tuscaloosa, Ala, for a three-game series against Kentucky Christian University. The Foresters will play Saturday the 20th at 7:00 PM, and a double-header on Sunday the 21st starting at 1:00.
Despite the cancelations, Frame has been as flexible as he can, just like the in-state opponent, Indiana University Southeast. IU Southeast played six games before Huntington played one despite playing in the same state as Huntington
“I think being flexible is critical,” Athletic Director John Glover of Indiana University Southeast wrote in an email interview. “You have to be able to try to fit games in when a team cancels last minute and always be ready to adjust. Our main reason for playing is to give our student-athletes the best possible experience as a college student-athlete.
As frustrating as this is, the team is continuing to stay motivated and excited about the season.
“We just want to play baseball,” Frame said firmly. “Some of those guys thought that they might never play baseball again. So there’s an extra giddiness to us being able to play and we’re so excited for that.”
The guys that had theirforest baseball careers in jeopardy were given an extra year of eligibility. Three of the four decided to take that chance and start their master’s program to play the sport they love as “covid seniors.” Those that stayed are Mason Shinabery, Alex McCutcheon, and Eli Knust.
McCutcheon is excited about the team this season and says that the team has a higher ceiling than last year.
“I felt like guys got bigger, stronger, faster, and swings got better.” McCutcheon said. “Young guys got more developed.”
With the return of nearly the entire program and freshman additions, the Foresters look to defend their crown of the Crossroads League’s top team.
The baseball team, however, was hit with another problem. They will have to play without the foundation of the program in head coach Mike Frame.
Frame tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of the fall, where he was hospitalized in Huntington and Fort Wayne, fighting for his life. Frame was hit with blood clots in multiple areas, including his lungs, and was in the hospital for around two months. Unfortunately, the doctors were forced to amputate part of his leg due to the pain.
From that point forward, Frame is slowly recovering and remains in good spirits. Thad Frame, son of Mike Frame, has said that he is getting better, and that he has had support from numerous friends, family, and alumni. But for the first time in a long time, he will not be able to coach his team.
“It’s the first time in about 37 years he isn’t around his guys and his players” Thad Frame said, “but he is doing all right. He has had a really good attitude with the situation.”
Frame has been able to come and watch a few practices, and it is an uplift for the team.
“I remember the first time he came back to practice,” the Foresters second baseman, Langston Ginder said, “and I don’t remember where he was but he was teary-eyed, and everyone thought, ‘Hey, the boss is here,’ and it was really cool.”
Ginder and other teammates have been helping Frame since the surgery by moving Christmas decorations and plowing snow off of his driveway. Thad Frame has even built a ramp accessible for his wheelchair and renovated the bathroom as well.
This is the culture set by the program established by coach Frame. His kindness and spirits have provided the team to propel forward and continue to work harder than before. Ginder said that the team understands what is expected from this program and that they’ve been taken over by the winning culture.
The ultimate goal has been set for the World Series
“We want to get Coach Frame to Lewiston (Idaho)” Alex McCutcheon said.