Local teams trying to adjust to coronavirus delays

St. Mary's baseball coach Derek Dana (center) and the Spartans were set to defend their Division 2 state title before the spring season was delayed due to the coronavirus. (Item File Photo)

By now, high school teams around the North Shore are usually right in the thick of things in preparation to kick off the spring season. But as we all know, this year has been anything but normal. 

Coronavirus delays have — rightfully so — put baseball, softball and lacrosse seasons in jeopardy of happening at all this year. Even though the concerns are justified, it doesn’t minimize the disappointment felt by local coaches and their players.

The St. Mary’s baseball team was coming off of a Division 2 state championship run in 2019 and, with a number of great returners, coach Derek Dana and the Spartans were excited for the opportunity to defend their title.

Now it may be a chance they never get.

“Well our team, just like any team right now, is disappointed that they’re not able to go out and play,” Dana said. “Really you can’t say much about it, everybody is in the same boat right now. 

“We’ve been looking forward to this year really since the end of last season,” Dana said. “We have a great group of returners and a great senior class. They did a good job in the weight room. We had good numbers at captains practices. After all that, the disappointment is there for sure.”

Things have changed drastically from the days the Spartans were able to hit the weight room and preseason practices together to now having sparse communication, if any at all.

“We’re really not in the best communication right now,” Dana said. “It’s very limited obviously we don’t know what we’ll have handed to us this year in terms of the season. We’re just kind of holding out to see what happens.”

During the waiting game to see if they’ll be able to hit the field, the focus is on individual players to prepare as best as they can.

“We left it as, ‘continue doing what you can do,'” Dana said. “Obviously we don’t want kids out. They’re on their own and they have to do the best they can do. But with the group we have, I’m sure they’re doing the best they can do right now.”

Things aren’t any different for softball. Classical softball coach Erica Richard and her team wish they could put a primary focus on preparation, but right now there are bigger concerns.

“It’s tough,” Richard said. “I know some girls are in the backyard taking swings with a net but it’s not easy. As much as I’d love to worry about those things, the most important thing right now is staying safe and healthy. There’s nothing definite yet so I don’t even know what to think. We’re waiting to see and hoping.”

A lot of that hope is for the Rams seniors and whether or not they’ll be able to enjoy their spring seasons on and off the field at all.

“A lot of girls look forward to the season all year long, especially the seniors,” Richard said. “This should have been their year, now to have this dread hanging over their heads, I can’t imagine it. This is supposed to be the best time of their lives with prom and graduation. To even think they might not get any of that is terrible.”

Just like on the diamond, seniors and players on the lacrosse field are being robbed of seasons filled with high hopes. Swampscott lacrosse coach Al Eaton and the Big Blue were also slated to return a solid squad this season.

“I think we had fairly high expectations for the season,” Eaton said. “We’re disappointed and now there’s the possibility we might not play at all. There are a couple different scenarios including no tournament. I feel bad for the seniors. This was a big year for them.”

Like most teams the Big Blue are doing what they can to prepare but it’s obviously no comparison to an actual preseason.

“We’re trying to do some things virtual,” Eaton said. “There are things they can do on their own and fitness activities, wall-ball activities but it’s obviously not as effective as a training camp. The girls had prepared well in the offseason too. Obviously everyone is disappointed and we’re staying hopeful.”

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