The high school baseball and softball teams in West Baton Rouge Parish may have played their final games of the 2020 season a month before the regular season was scheduled to end.
On March 13, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards along with the state health department issued a mandate to suspend school, school activities, and facilities to go into effect on March 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the suspension time frame holds true, the spring sports’ regular season and postseason wouldn’t be affected.
However, the best-case scenario isn’t guaranteed and the programs honored their seniors as if the season was ending just in case.
Port Allen baseball earned a 14-0 win over Independence on March 12, while Brusly baseball, softball, and Port Allen softball each played games on March 14.
Brusly baseball fell to Scotlandville 5-3 at home, but used the game as an opportunity to honor its 12 seniors while Scotlandville honored eight of its own.
It might have been an abrupt end to Mike Forbes’ first season as the Brusly head coach, but it’s a day he said he won’t forget.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Forbes said. “It was meant for me to be here with these guys at this time… We were just getting to the point where we were clicking. It was heartbreaking because they were just starting to get it.”
Forbes said there is a possibility that the season will continue, but he wanted to make sure he helped provide memories for the seniors just in case it is the end.
“That last day was amazing,” Forbes recalled. “I wanted to have a senior day that they can tell their kids about. It’s not always about the wins and losses, it’s about the kids’ memories. That’ll be one senior day I’ll never forget.”
Gatherings larger than 10 people are prohibited, so teams aren’t able to practice, but Forbes said he’s sent out workout programs to each of his players and encouraged them to work at home if possible to help stave off rust.
“We have to prepare as if we’re going to play baseball again,” he said. “It’s hard, but if we do a little bit, we’ll be a little ready when it’s time.”
Port Allen head coach Brian Bass said he believed his team was on the right track with a 7-2 record heading into the hiatus.
“I expected to be home for about two or three weeks, then come back and finish a great season,” he said. “It started to set in later that that probably wasn’t going to the case. It’s uncontrollable. I hate to see it, but sports is such a small part of what we’re trying to do.”
One positive that has come out of the suspension has been free time to spend with family, according to the coach.
Bass said he thought the game against Independence would be pivotal in his team’s success as the season wore on.
“I thought it was going to be a turning point in an already great season,” he said. “We were 7-2 at that point. We were so good. I’m perfectly fine with the season ending at that point.”
At Alexander Park, Brusly softball hosted a tournament where the number of teams participating changed dramatically from 16 Friday to 10 Saturday following the Governor’s mandate, according to Brusly coach Beau Bouvier.
The Lady Panthers split the two games with a win over St. James and a loss to Riverside. The team honored its lone senior, Angel Bradford, following the game against Riverside.
“Nobody knew what was going on,” Bouvier said. “We told the girls to enjoy it because it could be the last game we play this year… My concern is making sure everybody is safe. From the LHSAA standpoint, the date is April 13. My hope is to finish out the season, but the well being of everyone is most important.”
Port Allen lost both games at the tournament at Alexander Park, but first-year head coach Staci Rodriguez was optimistic about the team’s growth.
“I was pretty excited as this was kind of going to be the mid season,” she said. “We were picking things up and I was really excited, looking towards the end of the season. It hurts. These girls did awesome. From Day 1 to today, it’s been a lot of growth from every single girl.”
Abbie Bodiford was the only senior for the Lady Pels.
“She’s an awesome catcher,” Rodriguez said. “She was always leading the team. She’s an all-around phenomenal player, a phenomenal student-athlete. I cannot wait to see her play college ball.”