High school athletes across the country are only left with a glimmer of hope as far as being able to play an abbreviated spring sports season, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The North Douglas softball team is among the defending state champions in Oregon that have yet to get their season started on the diamond.
The Oregon School Activities Association announced last Wednesday it wasn’t taking any further action on the season, which is suspended through April 28 — in line with the governor’s orders to close schools through that date.
The OSAA executive board is scheduled to meet by conference call again on April 15.
North Douglas lost only two starters off its 2019 team that won its second Class 2A/1A softball championship in three years with a 15-6 victory over Kennedy of Mt. Angel.
The Warriors finished 28-3 overall under coach Jesse Rice.
Among the returning players this season for North Douglas is Nicki Derrick, the 2A/1A player and pitcher of the year. The right-hander, who signed with Western Oregon University, is one of five seniors on the roster.
“I haven’t given up hope yet (for a season),” Rice said. “I was really looking forward to this year, it was going to be a fun season. We had 23 girls turn out and were planning to have two teams. I felt good about our chances going deep into the playoffs.
“I hope we get a chance to play. I just feel bad for the seniors. I’d hate for them to miss that senior year experience.”
Derrick, who was also selected the state’s top player and pitcher as a freshman in 2017, says she’s trying to stay as fit and prepared as possible at home while waiting this out with everybody else.
“I’m doing pretty well under the circumstances,” she said. “It’s hard to stay home. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but you have to look at the bigger picture — how many lives are on the line.
“It’s been hard. My friends and myself are connected through sports and it’s tough not being around your teammates and coaches. I really hope there’s some way we can string together a season. It means a lot to all the athletes across the state, not just softball players.”
The other seniors for the Warriors are Natalie Draeger, Sofia Alcantar, Hope Ward and Kaycee Monegan. Monegan is a transfer from Elmira.
Junior Morgan MacDonald and sophomores Halli Vaughn, Cydni Dill and Samantha MacDowell all played in the state title game.
“We have some great young talent,” Rice said. “We’re as talented as we were last year.”
“A lot of athleticism,” Derrick said. “We have so much potential.”
Draeger, a first baseman who was the offensive star of the state championship game with four hits and three RBIs, admitted the boredom has set in with no practices or games.
“I’m pretty bummed out. Softball is my favorite sport and it’s my senior year,” Draeger said. “I’ve been going on walks and runs with my sister, that’s all I can do.
“You have to stay positive and I’m hoping for the best. I hope we can get at least something. We have a lot of potential and I hope we get to show it on the field.”
If spring sports get a season, a seven-day, practice-only acclimatization period would be instated before contests could begin. During that period, practices would be limited to one per day, no more than three hours in length.