It may not have been the first thought to come to mind when spring sports seasons were shut down but many players are now faced with the reality of how missing half a season can affect their athletic careers moving forward. Juniors and sophomores across Elmore County were hoping to garner some attention from colleges but now those players are wondering if they can make up for those crucial lost games.
“There’s always next year but I would’ve loved to finish the season off,” ECHS junior baseball player Zach Nichols said. “You really want to show people what you could do and how much talent you have. It’s going to make you want to try harder when you get back on the field.”
Nichols had put together the start to a career year for himself, batting .333 in 62 plate appearances. He said he was hoping for offers to start rolling in at the end of the year but he knows that may be tougher now without being able to show a full season to recruiters.
Tallassee junior Lexi Love is in a similar boat as Nichols as she started the season on a tear from the plate. She had already matched a career high with three home runs in her first 16 games and she led the No. 1 Tigers with a 1.453 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“I didn’t really think about it until after we didn’t play anymore,” Love said. “It was very sudden. I didn’t expect not being able to play at all anymore. I was doing really good. It scares me that I may be in a slump next year.”
Love has already received some offers including Shelton State and Montevallo but she was hoping a big season this year would help her get even more exposure including a possible invitation to the AHSAA North-South All-Star Game. Now, she said she has to rely on her time with her travel ball team, the EC Bullets, because she wants to make a decision in the fall before the next school season begins.
Several players are searching for ways to make up some of that lost exposure over the summer, whether it be through AHSAA events, travel ball or college camps. Wetumpka junior Jackson Ray wants to play college baseball so he is trying every way possible to get in front of college coaches and he may get his chance at Alabama State’s showcase in June.
“I’ve contacted a lot of coaches trying to get into camps,” Ray said. “I have film from a couple of games this year so I still send that out. But I want to start going to showcases and making some connections. That holds more weight. It can give you some more game situations and more reps on the field.”
Sophomores also saw one of their crucial recruiting seasons slip away but with an extra year to work with, many of them are hoping to learn from this experience and turn it into a positive for their playing career.
“It puts extra pressure on us because that’s a whole half a season to not be seen,” Stanhope Elmore softball player Kelbi Johnson said. “I just have to take it upon myself to get better. Coach (Virginia) Barber said to play every game like it was your last. I’m still working out and trying to get better. I want to play at the college level but I just have to keep working.”
As recruits keep their eyes focused on playing at the next level, they are not missing a beat while working from home.
“All this off time, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and work,” Nichols said. “You have to stay in shape and keep your arm good. You have to use anything you can to get ready.”