Drew Williams and his Enterprise varsity baseball teammates by now have processed what has happened.
The Wildcats and every other spring sports team in the state were shut down on March 18 as the coronavirus pandemic forced school closures. The remainder of the high school season has not officially been canceled, but few are optimistic as the virus dominates the news.
“It’s my senior year. I’m not going to college to play. I mean, this is it for me,” Williams said Wednesday afternoon. “It all has to end sometime. I’d much rather it ended in May than March, but if this is how it’s got to go, this is how it’s got to go.”
He is one of 12 seniors on the roster, plus senior manager Nate Martin.
Hunter Sumrall, another Wildcat senior, said the way he sees the shutdown is “getting a lot different” than his first reaction.
“At first we were like, well, we’ll be out two weeks and get back to it,” Sumrall said Wednesday. “But seeing everything going on, it’s getting surreal. We may not go back; there may not be another game.”
That idea seemed impossible to imagine three weeks ago. But it gradually spread, just the virus. Major League Baseball shut down spring training. The NCAA pulled the plug on the NCAA Tournament, then later on all spring sports.
“Watching all the big-timers shut down, that’s when it started to hit hard,” Sumrall said.
Williams was asked if he’s hopeful he will play again this season.
“I’d love to,” he said, adding he felt a sense of urgency when the Wildcats went to Birmingham for a weekend series March 13-14.
“We were supposed to play Oak Mountain and Helena and we ended up playing Hoover and Ramsay,” he said. “That’s when the virus started affecting Alabama. That’s when we hear we’re out until April 6 and we can play until Tuesday (March 17). That’s when I realized this might be it.”
But something cool happened for the program. Head coach Matt Whitton spent that weekend trying to get games for the Enterprise junior high, junior varsity and varsity teams, knowing they could not play past Wednesday.
“The JV and junior high both had Tuesday games that ended up being canceled,” Whitton said. “I knew Monday at lunch it was going to be very hard to get our teams a game. So we decided to get them together and make three teams with players from all three levels. It was a simulated game. Coaches swapped out every two innings and threw it. Everybody got to play two games.
“We invited all the parents to come in. Halfway through Game 2 we honored all of our seniors. It wasn’t a typical Senior Night, but it was the best way we could honor those guys and thank them for what they’ve done for our program over the last five years. The kids enjoyed it, the coaches enjoyed it, the parents enjoyed it. We had fun.”
It meant a lot to Williams.
“If that’s how my career ends, I will be fine with it,” he said. “That was probably the best thing coach could have planned for us that day. That was fun.”
Sumrall noted the Wildcats had experienced a ton of great highlights and memorable moments in their brief time on the field.
“We went to Mississippi and swept (four games) there and McCain (Sieving) threw the no-hitter while we were there,” Sumrall began. “We went 13 innings with Andalusia. The one thing that really sticks out with me is going to Mississippi. During that tournament I had my first home run of the season. I didn’t see a single person have a bad game. The whole team played good.”
In retrospect, a season’s worth of memories was packed into just a few games.
“It’s almost like it was a blessing in disguise,” Sumrall said, referring to the baseball gods. “They were giving us those memories because they knew this was going to happen.”
Williams said all those memories were only setting up a great finish for the Wildcats.
“No doubt. That’s probably one of the main reasons that was making me not want to end this thing so soon,” Williams said. “I think this group had a really good chance to go deep into the playoffs and make the final four or the championship. I think we have a lot of potential.”
Both Sumrall and Williams are working, but staying in touch with friends and family as schools remain closed.
“I’m trying to get as much out of my senior year with my buddies and family and the whole nine yards,” Sumrall said. “I see most of the boys I played baseball with a lot and I see most of the seniors about every day.”