By Ryan Boyd
It’s been over a year since the DCCC Phantoms baseball team stepped onto the field. March 9, 2020 marked their last regular season game before the shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite some players moving on from playing for the Phantoms, quite a few players will be back for yet another season, according to Sara Steinman, director of Wellness, Athletics, and Recreation at Delaware County Community College.
The Boys Are Back
A total of 11 players who were on last year’s squad will be returning for another year. This includes 2B/OF Solomon Bayuk, OF/C Joe Dougherty, C/OF Patrick McCloskey, INF/RHP Heriberto Bahamonde Jr., OF Kevon Harris, 1B/LHP Wayne Stewart Jr., RHP Billy McMillan, RHP/2B Erik Williams, RHP Cody Snyder, OF/1B Janai Vaughan, and 3B/1B Amir Hatchett.
Sophomore Solomon Bayuk, a 22-year-old general studies major who plays second base and outfield, is looking to build off of last season during which he started in all seven games for the Phantoms. Bayuk, who hit .222 and scored five runs last season, said he’s just happy to have the opportunity to play this season.
“A lot of schools just canceled their sports completely, but we have that opportunity so we want to take advantage of it for sure,” he said.
When it came to power, sophomore Janai Vaughan was the one to co-lead in that category. Vaughan, who plays outfield and first base, hit two home runs last year while batting .211 in six games for the Phantoms.
When it comes to getting ready for the upcoming season, it’s all about keeping that season form and shape, according to Vaughan.
“My biggest thing on this is not getting ready, it’s just staying ready,” said Vaughan, a business administration major. “I know for myself, and ever since last March, I really haven’t stopped working out and practicing, doing anything I can to keep that season form and shape so that I can perform at my best whenever I need to, whenever I may get the call.”
Turning the Corner
When Covid-19 put a halt to things in early March, the Phantoms finished the season with a record of 2-5 being outscored 69-44.
However, in what was a season that was supposed to continue long past the beginning of March, some say it wouldn’t be fair to judge the team based on seven games.
Phantoms head coach Kahreem Cunningham, who is set to begin his third season as head coach, believes the team was about to turn the page. That was, of course, until the season came to a close.
“I’ll be honest, last year was definitely really disappointing because I think that we had a really good team,” Cunningham said. “I really believe that we would’ve won our division and we would’ve definitely made the playoffs and made some noise in the playoffs.”
On April 3, the Phantoms will open up their season at Montgomery County Community College with a doubleheader. As of right now, they’re set to play 15 games this season.
Practice is set to begin the week of March 22. A total of six official team practices will be held before Opening Day on April 3. At first, practice will be held at the Maple Zone just in case the field isn’t quite ready in time for practice, according to Steinman.
With the season being right around the corner, and the fact that the turnaround between practices and games will be fairly quick, a big topic in the mandatory team zoom meeting back in early March was to start working out on your own and to not wait until the first day of practice to start getting in shape.
Athletic trainers Britt DeMara and Jason Kopec emphasized that throughout the course of the meeting back on March 5.
While this year may look different because of all the new safety protocols that will be in place because of the pandemic, players said that they’re just excited to be back out on the field playing baseball.
Sophomore Joe Dougherty, a business administration major, said he is looking forward to playing baseball again.
“Honestly, I think what we’re all looking forward to most is just getting back out there,” Dougherty said. “Playing the game we love and just kind of seeing what we can do this year.”
Getting off to a fast start is important, but even coach Cunningham knows it’ll take some time to get going. He anticipates that as the season progresses, his team will continue to improve.
“The way we look day one, we won’t look for game two,” Cunningham said. “But each game we’ll get better and better. I can promise you that.”
New Covid-19 Safety Protocols in Place
This season will be much different than in years past.
In order to get back to playing baseball, certain safety protocols are now in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
For starters, players won’t be allowed to even do as much as step on the field if they don’t complete all the paperwork ahead of March 22.
A few things players must have before beginning to practice with the Phantoms in late March include a completed sports physical and a completed Covid-19 questionnaire. Players must also complete the Covid-19 education training before answering a few questions upon the conclusion of it, Steinman explained.
As for daily protocols for practices and games, players must complete a screening form before showing up. Some of the questions asked on that form include whether students have been exposed or recently had Covid-19, whether they’re waiting for Covid-19 test results, or if they have experienced any symptoms of Covid-19.
If the players answer yes to any of those questions, they’ll be asked to stay home that day.
For away games, things are also a bit different this year.
Instead of everyone taking the bus to go to the game, players are given the option to either take the bus or drive their own vehicle. However, players must leave from the college meaning that even if someone chooses to drive to the game, they must first drive to the college, Steinman said.
That’s where players have to have their symptom check form filled out and their temperature checked. Not only will they have their temperature checked before leaving from the college, they’ll also have it checked upon arrival at the opposing team’s field by the home teams’ athletic trainer.
“So it’s going to be different, it’s going to be definitely unique,” Cunningham said. “But I know our guys are mature enough and responsible enough that we’ll make it through.”
Contact Ryan Boyd at email@example.com
See the schedule below:
April 3 @ Montgomery County Community College (DH) 12:00pm
April 10 @ Penn College (DH) 12:00pm
April 11 vs. Middlesex Community College (DH) 12:pm
April 18 @ Northampton Community College (DH ) 12:00pm
April 24 @ Atlantic Cape Community College (DH) 12:00pm
April 25 vs. Salem Community College 1:00pm
May 3 vs. Montgomery County Community College (DH) 3:30pm
May 9 @ Camden County College (DH) 12pm