(Editor’s Note: this is the first in a series of stories focusing on athletics and academics during their current suspension due to COVID-19.)
By Melissa McCaghren
The Slaton Tigerette Softball field currently is eerily silent for it to be spring.
No crack of the bat, the slap of the ball in the catcher’s glove, no chanting from the dugout.
When it will come back? – The University Interscholastic League currently says May 4, but with coronavirus, no one knows for sure.
That said, if Head Coach Brandon Langston has his way, the 2019 Regional Semifinalist Tigerette’s quest to advance to the Regional Finals for the first time won’t be waiting another year.
So far, that quest has been strong. “We are currently 15-6 overall and 2-0 in District. Our losses have come against 3A’s Bushland and Coahoma, 4A’s Lamesa, Fort Stockton and Lovington, N.M., and then 6A San Angelo Central,” he said.
“We have played some tough competition to help prepare us for our District and hopefully a run in the playoffs. We started off District beating a good Abernathy team 3-1 as we played great defensively, and then we beat Brownfield. We hung around until our bats got going as we beat them 14-3.”
The delay restarting the game however has affected the team slightly.
“It’s a tough situation. We all want to be out there practicing and playing. As of now, we will not get to play a game until (May) 4, but they mentioned giving us time to practice before that to get back rolling,” said Langston.
It helps the players too.
“A week or so off will be good for us to get healthy hopefully and heal up from some of our aches and pains. Being off this long gives us some other issues that we have to learn to deal with, getting back into the routine of playing and practicing, making sure we don’t lose what we have built thus far in the season,” he added.
“It is another obstacle for us but it is something that every team is going to be dealing with and trying to learn how to handle and figure out the best way to get us back to playing at a high level.”
There are a few other factors they have to wait for before there is a final decision if the season continues.
“It will be interesting to see what we end up doing. I know our DEC will meet to decide what is the best situation for our District to finish out the season and prepare for the playoffs,” said Langston. “Before we can make any decisions or really make any plans we will have to see what the UIL does and how much time they give us to finish out the regular season before playoffs start.”
He also sympathizes with his fellow District coaches and opponents.
“I know that every coach within the District wants to make up the games as much as possible but we also know it may mean that we will have a shorter District schedule and may even change the way the playoffs look. Really, we won’t really know how to make a plan until the UIL gives us a time line and more of a plan moving forward,” he said.
Still, he is also optimistic about how things will go given the UIL will not just throw them back into the season as though they didn’t take a more than a month-long break.
“With them mentioning giving us time to practice before games continue, I am hoping that we can have sufficient time to keep everyone’s arms in good shape and get some live hitting situations in,” Langston said. “I think a lot of our girls are missing and were wanting to go throw and hit some on their own so there is a chance we aren’t too bad out of shape when we get back to practicing.”
While time will tell if this year’s team can continue their quest to advance to the Regional Finals for the first time in school history, Langston said the adjustment they’ve had to do this season can also help the girls in the rest of their lives.
“This is a new situation for everyone involved, and everyone making situations. We talk a lot about real world and controlling what we can control, this is as real world and out of our control as it gets right now and so all we can do is keep our head down and keep pushing forward and take care of what we can control and good things will happen and everything will work out,” he said.
Coaches, The Slatonite would like to focus on your team next. Please send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or General Manager Melissa McCaghren at email@example.com This series will continue pre- and post-UIL restrictions.