On May 30, Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) first baseball season back from the abrupt cancellation due to COVID-19 came to an end.
Last year the baseball team had only played 14 games before the global pandemic which caused the season to shut down indefinitely. This lead to the team missing out on 75-80 percent of games.
“When this first happened there was so much uncertainty,” said Eric Roof, Head Coach of baseball at EMU, “There were a lot more questions than there were answers.”
In regards to playing the game this year, Roof said that he was keeping an eye on what football did because they’re one of the first sports to play in the fall and did the same watching major league baseball. They were planning and moving forward like they were going to play with the preparation of possibly not being able to play.
“I was not skeptical when they said that we could play baseball this year. I was definitely thankful and blessed that we had the opportunity too. I knew it was going to be difficult, however,” states Nick Jones, a baseball player whose senior season was halted due to the cancellations and came back to play this season.
Jones’s situation as a senior is one facing many student-athletes throughout sports. Because of many seasons being canceled last year, students are being extended an extra year of eligibility by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Coming into the season this year, safety measures had to be taken to make sure that the players were safe at all times and that the risk of contracting the virus was minimal.
“One thing the Mid-American Conference (MAC) did was they had an attestation form. We couldn’t play another opponent unless they did the same testing or higher than we did,“ Roof said.
The team also practiced social distancing by practicing in smaller groups to limit any possible spread of the virus.
“The only time they were close was as a hitter/catcher runner at first base/first basemen,” Roof said.
There were times where they had a couple of shutdowns throughout the year where they had to take a ten-day to two-week pause. However, that never affected their goal of finishing playing this season.
Games were able to be completed as scheduled. “The most impressive thing about our season is we had zero cancellations this spring. We got all 51 scheduled games in,” Jones said.
Despite all of this, they remained positive and kept pushing. Morale between players and athletes was essential to that, they relied on each other and helped each other get through the season amid a pandemic.
“We get to play the game we love. We can only control the controllable and whatever happens, happens,“ Jones said.
This season however did have a silver lining, the baseball team won more games this season than they have in the past three years. "I’m proud of their effort. I think we made strides from a year ago and I think we’ll continue to make strides. We just need to continue to battle together and the hard work will pay off.”
While the baseball season may be over for EMU, many of the players will spend the summer playing for leagues throughout the country. More information about sports at EMU can be found on the EMU athletics website.
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