High School Softball Players Grapple With COVID-19 Cancellations
COVID-19 cut short the NCAA softball season. But, fortunately for college softball student-athletes, they now at least have the option to get their year of eligibility back.
The pandemic has also postponed and canceled high school softball seasons around the country. For those softball players, they likely won't get another shot to take the field this spring. And, for some high school seniors, the idea of not lacing up their cleats with their hometown friends one last time is taking a mental and emotional toll.
Leo High School in Leo, Ind. fell short of a state championship last year, but this season was supposed to be their time. They had returners, great camaraderie and motivation to bring glory back to their town. Yet, all school activities have been canceled until at least May 1. If they don't go back to school, they won't play their season.
"I was looking forward to senior night and making memories," Leo High School senior pitcher Ashley Miller told Softball America. "In high school softball, you're playing for something, your town, your teammates."
Miller is a Michigan State commit, and although she will get to continue playing softball after this year, she said losing her senior season of high school would be heartbreaking. Her teammate, Indiana University commit Aaliyah Andrews, agrees with Miller's sentiments.
"I could have already had my last day of school and been with my friends for the last time," Andrews told Softball America. "It's sad, but it reminds you to play every game like it's your last because it can be taken away from you so easily."
Both Miller and Andrews will get to play softball in college, but other student-athletes in this predicament won't be quite as lucky.
Aleah Kost is a senior pitcher at Hazleton Area High School in Hazleton, Pa. Last summer, Kost tore her ACL. At that point, she had already decided she was not going to play softball in college, which meant that if she wanted to play the game one last time, she would need to be ready to go for her final high school season. That season was set to begin this month, and after months of intense rehab, Kost had herself ready to go.
A couple weeks before her team's first scrimmage of the 2020 season, Kost was cleared to play. Then, just days later, Kost's season was postponed due to COVID-19. Now, she sits and waits to see if she'll ever find herself in the circle again.
"It'll be devastating if we don't get to play," Kost told Softball America. "I literally think about it every day, and I just hope we have a season."
But the senior will have to continue to wait like so many other high school softball players around the country. While Kost's season has not yet been canceled, it continues to be pushed back.
"No one knows what's going to happen," Kost said. "I'm so thankful to be a part of a team of these great girls, and I just want a chance to make new memories with them."
All three of these student-athletes said they completely understand why these precautions are being taken, since safety comes first. But, they are just a small sample of how the coronavirus is impacting so many different athletes across the world. And just like the rest of the world sits in their homes waiting for this pandemic to end, high school softball players also sit and wait with hope that they will be able to return to the field at some point soon.