E.A. Sports Today

More March Sadness

Alabama high school sports placed on hold as all public schools to shutter for 2 1/2 weeks March 18 to reduce spread of coronavirus
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
Alabama high school sports will go on hold for at least 2½ weeks at the end of the school day Wednesday after Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Schools will close at the end of the school day March 18 with a target of re-opening April 6 with the aim of reducing the spread of coronavirus.
State schools superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said the declaration is for all activities, including athletics, at all Alabama public schools K-12, but it is believed the private schools will follow suit.
Calhoun County has 11 public high schools and four private high schools. All of them are involved in spring sports.  Statewide the decision affects more than 1,400 schools and 720,000 students.

Tuesday will be the last day to play games before the stoppage. The state recommended all sports be postponed or canceled through the end of April.

“We’ll just be hanging out, have my kids at home waiting on something,” White Plains baseball coach Wes Henderson said.
The Alabama High School Athletics Association had encouraged its member schools to get in as many of their required area games for playoff consideration in anticipation of a stoppage. The governing body has been working on a playoff contingency plan and it was expected to have it completed by the first of the week.
The state baseball committee has recommended moving the playoffs into June, but it is uncertain how much consideration that has received.
Some county baseball teams are already into their area schedules, while several others have yet to begin.
Donoho currently leads Class 1A Area 11 with a 4-0 record. Undefeated No. 1 Piedmont was completing its second series in Class 3A Area 9 Friday, and Wellborn and Pleasant Valley are scheduled to complete their Area 9 series Saturday. Ohatchee was so adamant about squeezing in two Class 2A Area 10 games Thursday, it brought in helicopter to help dry a soggy field.
Larger classification teams such as Oxford, White Plains, Jacksonville and Alexandria have yet to play area games. Among softball teams, Alexandria, White Plains, Jacksonville and Oxford have played one area game, Pleasant Valley, Weaver and Saks have played two.
The rain that has played havoc with spring sports schedules all season is expected to continue into next week so it’s uncertain how many more games will get to be played before the shutdown.
“Anytime you take a break, a non-scheduled break, for something of this magnitude it kind of shakes everybody up a little bit,” Donoho baseball coach and athletics director Steve Gendron. “When you think about all your kids, your family, you want everybody to be safe. The powers that be think it’s the right thing to do, we have to do what they’re telling us to do.
“The safety of the kids in the school is the No. 1 thing. I’m a sport guy, I think sports is awesome and I think high school kids need sports, but we’ve got to do what they tell us to do. Hopefully we’ll be able to compete in the postseason at some point and whenever that occurs we’ll be ready.”
When the spring sports do return, their late-season schedules are likely to impact spring football practice that traditionally takes place in May. Speaking of football, Oxford is hoping to have its state championship ring ceremony before Wednesday’s last day of school.
The closure period includes the Gulf Coast Classic in Gulf Shores that had Donoho and White Plains in the field, and the Choccolocco Park Spring Break Experience that includes numerous teams from around the state and one from Missouri.

The window also impacts the spring Calhoun County Tournaments: softball, soccer, track and golf.
“You hate (the disruption) for the seniors more than anything,” Henderson said. “A lot of those kids, not just at White Plains but across the country, across the state, that could be the last time they wear the uniform. You want to help them and do something for them, but you’re really helpless. You’ve just gotta keep the faith and hope something positive happens at some point.”
This story will be updated.

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