By Joshua Huff, sports editor
TRUSSVILLE – For all the baseball and softball teams within The Tribune coverage area, the 2020 spring season ushered in a sense of hope and relief that the time had finally come to hit the field and put to use an entire offseason’s worth of hard work and blood, sweat and tears.
For the Hewitt-Trussville softball team, the promise of yet another season meant a battle to retain its place atop Class 7A following its state championship in 2019. That same battle brewed within a Springville baseball team that claimed the 2019 Class 5A state championship for the first time since 1992 with a victory over Briarwood. For all others, the journey was the same: grind, keep grinding and then grind some more.
However, this lovely planet that we call home had other ideas.
The coronavirus pandemic sunk its teeth into the world in the waning stages of 2019 and reared its ugly head within the U.S. in January. Following its rapid spread, the economy began to grind to a halt, taking with it many of the pleasures that we enjoy. One of those pleasures was athletics.
Just as the Hewitt-Trussville softball, Springville softball, Moody softball, Leeds softball, Hewitt-Trussville and Leeds baseball teams jumped out to impressive starts to their respective seasons, the spring campaign was unceremoniously canceled. Thus, abruptly ending the high school careers of seniors, many of whom will never again step onto a field in any competitive form.
No more will we see senior Hewitt-Trussville pitcher Kaitlyn Hughes dominate on a high school mound or witness Leeds’ senior pitcher Sam Sertell impress as both a hitter and a pitcher. No more will we see senior infielder and pitcher Tyler Mauldin goad his father or be blessed with the presence of four-time state champion Kyndall Gipson, who absolutely stroked the ball this season for Springville as she recorded 27 runs batted in with three home runs and nursed a .330 batting average at the plate.
No more will Pinson Valley’s Barry White take to the mound for the Indians or Hewitt-Trussville ace Michael Fowler make opposing batters looking foolish. No more will we see Samford commit Abigail Dorsett feast on pitchers at the high school level or watch Moody infielder Lindsey Richardson hit .560 at the plate.
No more will we witness Springville’s Emily Robinson impress at both pitching and hitting or watch Hewitt-Trussville’s Owen Boren stifle opposing batters with his 38 strikeouts and 7-1 record in 17 games. No more will we see Pinson Valley’s Jordan Walker, who has been a member of the Indians’ varsity softball team since she was in middle school.
For those seniors, graduation has already come or is approaching. Though the memories of this past season might be bittersweet, the experiences felt by all are simply but a chapter within the story of life. The highs and lows will continue, but these past four years of high school athletics, and several more, if you’re like Walker, should remain as a period in life that ought to be cherished.
A tribute to a senior class of athletes who have weathered an unexpected bump in the road is in order. Whether you were a vital cog or a player who played sparingly, the community is thankful for the hours of hard work, the years of dedication and the memories left upon the field, which leave behind an indelible mark that will be cherished by family, friends and casual observers alike.
For all the seniors throughout all sports, and the entire class in general, from Clay-Chalkville, Center Point, Hewitt-Trussville, Leeds, Moody, Pinson Valley and Springville, this column is a tribute to you.
In lieu of an All-Tribune sports team for baseball and softball, the recognition for all the hard work lost during a season cut short is more pertinent than naming players of the year from a sample size smaller than snack-sized candy bar. It does not matter if you were the cleanup hitter or only took to the field when your team was comfortably in the lead, this season is about the seniors who are unable to cap an ending to a stage in life without beginning a sentence with “What if?”