Striking Out COVID-19
Baseball and softball seasons has begun in spite of COVID-19
By Madelyn Kohn
Amid the pandemonium brought about by COVID-19, the Ripon College baseball and softball teams are beginning their seasons. In some ways, this season will be much different, but players are excited to be getting back into the “swing” of things.
Abigail Gilbertson, a sophomore infielder, is thrilled to be back on the field. She says,
“We are officially playing! The Midwest Conference announced that we will be able to participate in spring athletics. Right now we are practicing and mostly playing games on the weekends in domes,” Gilerbertson said. “I just love the sport so much that I missed not being able to play. During quarantine, you could only do so much alone to work on softball. I am just happy to be on the field and able to hang out with my teammates even while wearing face masks.”
Ripon College softball is heading into conference play on March 27 after having played only away games so far. Their first conference game will be a doubleheader against Beloit College at Beloit.
Junior catcher Evan Barbian expressed his gratitude for being able to play again.
“Baseball is finally making its return after the cancellation of the 2020 season the day before we were supposed to start. We are lucky that we are an outdoor sport that already distances their players pretty well to match the regulations due to Covid,” Barbian said.
Senior infielder Keegan Johnston explained the changes regarding mask mandates, covid testing, etc. going on for the baseball team. He is happy to be playing in his senior year even with the new regulations.
“This year is a little different since our spring break is canceled meaning we won’t be taking our annual Florida trip to play games. We open the season down in Illinois against North Central who we haven’t played in the past. I am excited to be together with my teammates and finally be able to step on the field to compete for my final year at Ripon.” Johnston said.
The restrictions set in place due to the pandemic have made practicing difficult for the players.
“We challenge ourselves at practice in order to make game situations a little easier so we try to get as much live competition against each other as we can. We thankfully have the field house down at Willmore where we have the space to set up an actual diamond and attempt to visualize game scenarios while we are inside.” Barbian said.
As juniors and seniors, Barbian and Johnston know what it felt like to play college baseball both before and now after the pandemic hit.
“My favorite part about finally getting to play again is the atmosphere of a game day that we create within the team. Getting amped up, listening to our favorite music, and seeing everyone locked in for competition is the best part of being on a team. We show up knowing that we get to play the game we’ve been playing since we were kids and that’s all we are focused on at those moments. My walk-up song is ‘Wolves’ by Big Sean. I remember I was driving over winter break and this song came on and immediately reminded me of how badly I wanted the baseball season to be back. I made a note on my phone right away that it should be my walk up and it still gets me fired up when I hear it.” Barbian said.
The baseball team had their first game March 5, and will begin conference play April 3 at home against Beloit College.