Sophomore Jodie Vaughn returned to the pitching rubber for her third game in two days on March 11 in Tucson, Arizona. With a five inning, 9-0 victory over Roosevelt University at the spring break tournament, the Lady Lobos improved to 13-5 this season.
Vaughn was once again the ace of the Sul Ross State University staff with an 8-3 record, 59 strikeouts, and a 2.25 ERA. Alpine's own Annika Canaba played every game last year as a freshman and was simply explosive in 2020. She was hitting .527 with four home runs and 25 RBI before it all just stopped. No more softball. No more sports at many other NCAA schools across America.
In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the entire collegiate sports calendar at Sul Ross has been wiped clean.
“It’s upsetting to the student athletes who worked hard, and prepared this entire season,” said Lobos Sports Information Director Derek Pollacchi. “Whether it’s basketball and their championships, or softball, baseball and tennis, which were just starting to ramp up.”
The NCAA will grant students from all the sports that have been postponed an additional year of eligibility so they can still experience four full seasons at college. But the future is uncertain for seniors like Tim Johnson on the baseball team.
“He was having an unbelievable season,” Pollacchi said. “He was an All-American last year, and you don’t get many of those at Sul Ross. If this was his final season, it’s a shame we didn’t get to see it come to fruition. What he was already putting up this year was going to be something special.”
While Sul Ross reached some difficult final decisions this week, the Alpine Independent School District is still holding on to hope. As of Tuesday, all Texas high school and middle school sports have been suspended until March 30, but uncertainty is currently engulfing the planet. So Aaliyah Fierro will wait to attend the Powerlifting State Finals, and her classmates on the academic UIL, baseball, softball, tennis, and track and field teams aren’t sure what is going to happen next.
“I'm just I’m trying to stay positive about the whole thing,” Fightin' Buck baseball manager Adam Llanez said. “You'd hate for the kids to miss out on getting better and being productive. It’s a young team, and they’ve got to get not only better for the rest of this season, but for next season as well.”
The four-time defending District champions have gone winless in 2020, but still had their eye on defending their title on the diamond.
“Practice makes perfect,” said Llanez. “They’ve been told they can try on their own to make some contact with some balls and to keep throwing. Two weeks down without throwing a baseball will get you pretty stiff.”
Saturday was going to be the date for the Fightin' Buck Relays at Bucks Stadium. Instead, the parking lot won’t be full of buses and parents from out of town, and volunteers won’t be running around with hurdles, stopwatches, and water for all the competitors. Everyone is waiting for the sound of a starters pistol that may not be fired again this season.