Onalaska grads Pica, Ondell lead effort in baseball club team creation

, the coronavirus pandemic has canceled high school spring sports in our area and even summer sports like Legion baseball. But recently, a group of local 18 and under baseball players have said if our usual teams aren’t existing this summer, then we’ll just make our own.

Onalaska grads Nick Pica and Jess Ondell will be playing college ball when they get to their respective campuses, but they didn’t want their senior year of baseball to end with a series of cancellations.

“After the whole quarantine, me and Jess were super disappointed,” Pica said. “We had our senior season taken away, and then the national Legion canceled Legion, so then we were looking at some tournaments and we were like we’re still 18 and under, so it’s still possible [to play.]”

They got their fellow Onalaska grads, plus graduated seniors from Logan, Central and Aquinas, and even some acquaintances who are making the two-and-a-half hour drive near the Twin Cities.

“It’s worth it. If I get to play baseball, I’m coming down to play,” Apple Valley, Minnesota native Preston Hetland said.

Their team name is the Outlaws, and they’re scheduling games and tournaments as they go each week. It could be a game in the Wisconsin Dells or a tournament all the way in South Dakota. For these guys, they’ll go wherever they can to play the game they love.

“We’re just sending back and forth possible tournaments [for the team]. I think we’ve put together 10 through the [group] chat,” Pica said. “Some of them pan out, some of them get canceled like the one in the Cities the following weekend. So now we’re looking to go to Chicago. It’s pretty exciting having control over what tournaments we go to as players. It keeps things rolling throughout the week.”