The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) waited as long as it could, but that didn’t make Monday’s news any less devastating — all high school sports were postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Fields and lockerrooms are empty.
The restart date, as of right now, is Monday, April 6, but there is a good chance that will change. The NCAA and every professional league has either canceled games or pushed them back into the summer.
Putting together any kind of AHSAA state tournament would be difficult with the baseball playoffs scheduled to start April 17 and the softball regional tournament set for May 6.
The Daily Mountain Eagle reached out to three softball coaches recently to get their outlook on the situation — with the acknowledgement that the health and safety of the student athletes comes first.
Oakman coach Jordan Burson
Oakman was off to a not-so surprisingly hot start to the softball season.
The Wildcats, who made a late-season run all the way to the State Softball Tournament in Montgomery in 2019, currently sit at 9-2.
As of right now that hot start is on hold until at least April 6 — and that’s best-case scenario.
“It’s frustrating for the kids. With how active they are, they would just love to get on the field to do anything, even if is just means getting in the batting cage,” Oakman softball coach Jordan Burson said. “Being able to be on the field would be awesome for them. It’s the worst for the seniors. Summer Day is our only senior and at this point she has no plans to play after high school. She could’ve played her last high school game last week and didn’t realize that would be the case. I think everyone saw this coming. Maybe they didn’t think it would be this bad.”
County teams were initially able to play games earlier this week — Monday and Tuesday — but that changed when the school system closed schools starting Monday.
Burson isn’t very confident that he will see this year’s team back on the field this season.
“I’m trying to be optimistic that we have some kind of championship so we at least have a conclusion to the season. Right now, I’m going to say it doesn’t look like that will happen. If we are able to go back, the county tournament would’ve been the following week. Even if that was all we got, at least it would be an interesting way to end the season.”
Dora coach Teresa Bradford
Dora softball coach Teresa Bradford has been intensely using social media to reach out to her players with both encouragement and ideas to keep their skill set honed.
From playing catch with family members to hitting into a net, watching games on line and doing simple at-home exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups, Bradford wants her team to stay active mentally and physically.
“We haven’t lost hope we will be able to play once school resumes, so my mind set in my posts to the team was to keep them active and not lose the progress we’ve made since January. Additionally, the tips I’ve posted are those that anyone can use while we’re all home-bound — a family pick-up game might encourage more physical activity during this down time that will be incorporated into our lives when it normally wouldn’t be thought of. But more than anything, I don’t want the players to lose their passion for the game.” Bradford said.
“We as adults haven’t given up on the season yet, so maybe it will give our players something to look forward in keeping themselves game-ready.”
Bradford also said maintaining a positive attitude and outlook is critical in a time of great uncertainty.
“A lot of kids are going to play off of the example we set and the attitude we’re displaying — anything we can do to give them hope is part of our duty as coaches and mentors. I’m heartbroken that our seniors are having to miss any of their final year, but our underclassmen will be back and keeping them encouraged is what we’re striving to do.”
Carbon Hill coach Wade Tittle
Carbon Hill struggled early this season, but had won four of its last five games before the season came to a halt.
Coach Wade Tittle’s thoughts immediately turned to his players.
“There are just a lot of unknowns, uncertainties and emotions right now. Everyone has an opinion on if this is the right thing to do. I don’t know all the facts so I’m going to keep my opinion to myself. What I do know, as far as sports and my softball team, is that every season is a journey and we are losing at least three weeks of that journey,” Tittle said.
“Seeing the smile on my pitcher’s face when she gets a big strikeout or seeing the happiness in one of my girls’ eyes after she hits a home run or makes a great defensive play are all part of the journey — and we aren’t going to get that back. When I learned Sunday afternoon that we were being shutdown immediately, I texted them and told them I loved them and I hoped to see them soon so we can complete our journey.”
Alayna Ivie and Zana Aderholt are seniors on this year’s team.
“I feel so helpless, especially for my two seniors. Alayna has been with me six years. She is such a tough, hard-nosed kid and has been a starter in the outfield since she was 13. She thinks like me out there. I hope I can write her name on that lineup card a few more times,” Tittle said.
“This is Zana’s first year with us and she has been a terrific teammate. We lost most of our infield from last year and even though Zana had been an outfielder during her time at Sumiton Christian, she came in and solidified our team at second base. She became the leader of our infield. I think about senior night and how special it is for the girls and their families. It’s all up in the air right now.”