The River Valley softball team had high expectations for this season, but it didn't get to experience any of it due to the cancellation.
飞艇计划app开奖CALEDONIA - Ever since the final out was called in last year's 13-3 Division II district semifinal loss to eventual state champion Jonathan Alder, the Vikings experienced 2020 vision.
And why not?
They finished the 2019 season at 16-10 overall and 8-6 in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference. More so, River Valley's softball team returned everyone from the roster.
"Alexis (Stevens), Devan (Miller) and I hang out all the time, and all we did was talk about how good we could be our senior year and how far we can make it. We were working really hard," fellow RV senior Taylor Hecker said.
Miller said the expectations were big for the Vikes.
"Everyone on the team and the coaches thought we could go really far in the tournament this year," she said. "We expected a lot out of the season for us and a lot of people did."
飞艇计划app开奖That included their head coach Phil Shepler, who was entering his 13th season with a 210-91 record. The 2020 version had the makings of being one of the best teams he's coached, and he's coached championship squads before.
"It was a very special group," Shepler said. "Five of my starters were seniors and three of them were four-year seniors and two of them were three-year seniors. That’s tough because there’s a lot of experience on the ball field with just those five kids.
"We had no seniors last year, and we were pretty good last year. I felt like we were going to have some upgrades this year."
飞艇计划app开奖Hecker, Miller and Stevens were the four-year returnees, while Riley Alcorn and McAilah Spaulding were the three-year varsity players. The junior class was equally seasoned with Makenna Rogers, Sydney Corwin, Sarah Lacher and Sophia Thompson all returning, while sophomores' Shelby Westler and Maizie Frank played extensively as freshmen.
飞艇计划app开奖Westler and Stevens both batted better than .500 with big power numbers last year, while Lacher, Hecker and Rogers were all over .400. Miller, Thompson, Spaulding and Frank all hit well over .300. Alcorn and Corwin were the top returning pitchers, and freshman Riley Hamm was expected to play a critical role for the team as a pitcher, too.
飞艇计划app开奖"My seniors worked really hard in the offseason, and they came into practice and were more focused than I’ve seen them in the past. They were ready to go," Shepler said.
飞艇计划app开奖An MOAC softball championship was on the goal sheet. A trip to the district championship and beyond was in their sight.
飞艇计划app开奖"Before every season, Phil has us write down our goals," Hecker said. "We hadn’t made it that far in the season to that point, but I know in talking to the seniors that we can definitely win the league and we can definitely win districts. We were hoping for a regional title, too, because we knew what we were capable of."
In the middle of March, the Vikings were in the midst of gearing up for the season, conducting practices and getting ready for scimmages. They were two days away from holding their annual youth softball clinic at the school, plus anticipating for a spring break softball trip to Tennessee.
Then on Thursday, March 12, it all came to a halt when the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced a three-week break for spring sports that would include no getting together at school facilities and no contact beyond electronic communication. The shutdown was due to the growing coronavirus pandemic.
飞艇计划app开奖Earlier that morning, Shepler was in contact with folks in Tennessee about whether the event was continuing. At 2 o'clock he was called to the school for a meeting and that's when he was told of the OHSAA decision that forced the cancellation of the clinic and trip.
"That’s a pretty good money-maker for us and it’s a great time for the kids," Shepler said of the clinic. "It’s a great time for my kids because I get to walk around and watch and see what they know and how they teach it to the little kids. I get more out of that than the little kids probably do because I know what my kids are teaching and that they understand it. I love doing that clinic, but it wasn’t meant to be."
The girls knew something was up when Shepler texted them about a meeting before practice on March 12. They had already heard about former RV teammates like Morgan Lott and Claire Nicholson who played major college softball and had their seasons canceled.
飞艇计划app开奖"We thought right there that we were going to get canceled and we were freaking out," Hecker said. "We got there and Phil told us we were on that break with no contact."
Added Miller: "We didn’t know for sure because everything just started happening. When he told us, it was a weird moment in time. We didn’t believe it. It felt like a dream. Instead of practicing, we all went to Payne’s Pizza to get our minds off it."
Hecker and Miller did their part to stay in softball shape at home as the delays to the season kept being announced.
"If we came back, we would be playing right away so we had to stay sharp," Hecker said.
飞艇计划app开奖But alas, it wasn't meant to be.
飞艇计划app开奖When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced in late April that school facilities would remained shuttered for the rest of the academic year, spring sports were canceled by the OHSAA.
飞艇计划app开奖"It’s been very aggravating," Miller said. "There were very high expectations for us this season, so we couldn’t prove ourselves. We had very big goals for the season for sure. It sucks that we couldn’t do that this season."
飞艇计划app开奖Miller and Stevens will play softball next season in college with Miller going to San Antonio to play at Our Lady of the Lake University and Stevens playing at Ohio Dominican. For Hecker and the rest of the seniors, their careers unsatisfactorily came to an end.
飞艇计划app开奖"I’ve stayed busy to not think about it," Hecker said. "I don’t know what I’m going to do without playing."
飞艇计划app开奖The hope is that at some point in June they'll gather together for a senior night celebration of some sort. That would at least grant a bit of closure for the 2020 squad.
"It was hard on me, but I don’t coach because of me or my winning record or anything like that. I coach because of the kids and because I want them to be better," Shepler said. "It’s disappointing because we had very, very high hopes. At the end of the day, I’m more concerned with the kids losing their season than me. I’ll have another season next year and the year after and as long as I decide to coach."
The 2020 Vikings will never get that opportunity.