The area’s high school baseball and softball teams were supposed to be playing senior night games later this month.
It’s a special moment for seniors when they and their parents are honored during the last regular season home game of the season.
With the season postponed due to coronavirus concerns, it seems more and more likely that’s not going to happen. In fact, some coaches are basically resigned to the fact there’s not going to be a season at all.
In an effort to do something for their seniors, area coaches turned on the lights at their fields last week.
The baseball and softball coaches at Tipton-Rosemark Academy both turned on the lights Saturday night at 8:20. That’s 20:20 in military time to honor the class of 2020.
Brad Smith, TRA’s baseball coach, went all out.
He mowed and striped the field, painted the bases and pitching rubber and arranged brand new baseballs into the jersey numbers of the team’s seven seniors. Photo banners of each senior were attached to stakes and placed in the positions where the players play.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to let the seniors know, ‘Hey, we still love you, you’re not out of our thoughts, out of our minds,” Smith said. “Anything you can do for those kids to let them know the world’s not coming to an end, that they mean something to you.”
Brighton baseball coach Ryan Wood and Lady Cardinal softball coach Robin Jacobs turned on the lights last Thursday night at 8:20. Dozens of parents and players drove through the parking lot near the adjacent fields to get a look.
Wood painted the seniors’ numbers on the first base line and sat in the dugout for 20 minutes to take in the scene.
“We were just trying to do a little something special for them,” Wood said. “I know the boys just want to play baseball and I don’t blame them. Turning the lights on doesn’t change that but the parents, I think, were really appreciative.”
Also Thursday night several Brighton softball players turned on their porch lights from 8:20 to 8:40 and displayed signs of support.
“We were just trying to show some appreciation for what they’ve done for us,” Jacobs said. “It’s just a crappy way to end things if this is how it ends. We’ve lost a lot of ballgames to end seasons, but this …”
Munford baseball coach Scotty Yount turned on the lights at 8 p.m. last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He and his wife, Claudia, sat on the tailgate of his truck all three nights and watched their two young sons play on the lit field.
“There’s not a whole lot else to do, just something for them to know you’re thinking about them,” Yount said. “I feel bad for all the players, missing out on things they don’t even know about. We’ve been rebuilding for two years after making state and we were really looking forward to this year. It’s not just for the seniors, but for all of them.”
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association has asked its members to suspend sports until April 24. Presumably an update will be given at that time, but the prevailing thought is that the 2020 season is not going to happen.
“I guess uncertainty is probably tougher on the kids than anything,” Wood said. “If the kids could knew it’s finally over it probably would provide some closure, but I understand what the TSSAA is doing. You can always postpone, but once you cancel it’s canceled.”
Smith is holding out hope the season could be resumed this summer.
“I call myself a realist, but in this situation I’m trying to be an optimist,” he said. “I appreciate the TSSAA not jumping the gun and calling it a year … If the answer’s going to be negative, don’t tell me yet.”
Yount said a lot of his players are working this spring, something they could not have done if there was baseball.
“I can’t see us going from lockdown quarantine to all of a sudden playing,” Yount said. “That doesn’t seem logical. I know the players want to be playing, but they’re just trying to make the best of things. They’re probably not near as bad as me. I sit around waiting for that phone call saying y’all can play.”