Springfield grad Floyd glad to be back on diamond

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Youngstown State pitcher Collin Floyd, a Springfield graduate, delivers a pitch in a game against Mercyhurst in 2019.

YOUNGSTOWN  On March 10 of last year, Collin Floyd and his Youngstown State teammates walked off the diamond at Eastwood Field following a 2-1 loss to Bowling Green.

They didn't know it at the time, but it would be their final game of the 2020 season and the last time they'd play for nearly a year.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought sports and life to an abrupt halt and drastically impacted everything that came along in the succeeding months, but as a new year settles in, the former Springfield High School standout is preparing for his final season of college baseball and is happy to be back in action, even if it looks different this time around.

"It's been tough, but I would say everyone is very eager to play. The way the season ended, no one wanted, but with the news coming out that you saw a couple of leagues canceled their seasons, we tried to keep our focus on the season even though in the back of everyone's heads we saw it coming," Floyd said of how last season ended. "We just tried to play every game like it's our last."

Once the season was officially called off, the focus shifted to getting ready for what the Penguins hoped would be a return to the field for the 2021 season. As the year wore on, high school and college sports slowly found their path through the pandemic and began setting forth the parameters for how games could be played. In the fall, football and other sports returned with no fans or limited attendance, along with multitudes of health and safety protocols in place for all involved.

Youngstown State's Collin Floyd

Floyd and his teammates, meanwhile, found themselves without access to gyms or fitness equipment at times and were forced largely to train on their own at home or in small groups.

"It's made it hard obviously, not having access to a lot of things we typically do, and it limits us," Floyd said. "Keeping a close bubble is something our team did, just staying connected and staying accountable even if you couldn't get access to a gym. If someone needed alternative ideas, guys threw in their advice on what to do."

Floyd, along with fellow senior captains Joel Hake and Nick Caruso, looked to keep the team connected and help its incoming freshmen assimilate into the program even though they didn't have their typical offseason. Another of the team's seniors, former Manchester standout Dalton Earich, has also helped in providing veteran leadership.

Although Floyd and Earich went to school in the same area, Floyd admitted they didn't know each other much in high school. That's changed during their time at YSU, as they've become friends and according to Floyd, push each other on and off the field. Both are pitchers and figure to log key innings this spring for a team with lofty aspirations.

The schedule contains series with big-name programs, including perennial national powerhouse LSU. Traveling to a place such as Baton Rouge, La., and battling a team with national championship banners hanging in its facilities could be daunting, but Floyd insists the Penguins won't be awed or intimidated by the experience. A series win last year over the Houston Cougars fortified the belief that they can not only compete with, but defeat top national programs.

However, they'll have to do so with some restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

"We're only going to be able to travel 27 guys, which is five less guys than we traveled last year, and it's going to be tough with the COVID guidelines determining who's traveling for pitchers and who's traveling as far as position players," Floyd said. "We also added an extra game on the weekend and we'll be playing four games instead of three, so developing our strategies will be tougher."

As the spring semester and season both unfold, Floyd finds himself at a transition point. He's already earned his undergraduate degree as a dual major in exercise science and digital art and marketing and is pursuing his MBA. He'll complete his graduate studies this semester and his college baseball career as well. He's hopeful to be drafted in the Major League Baseball draft or sign with an MLB team if he isn't drafted, giving him a chance to play professionally.

With his undergraduate and graduate degrees in hand, he'll also be well equipped for a career outside of baseball.

Having his college career extended by a year due to the pandemic has, Floyd observed, given him more time to get ready for whatever comes next. What that will be is going to be determined in the weeks ahead, but for now, enjoying the opportunity to play baseball again is the order of the day.