SLOCOMB — As Slocomb and Carroll softball players went through pre-game drills on Tuesday afternoon, it was if they didn’t have a care in the world.
Maybe for at least a couple of hours, they wouldn’t.
Temperatures were in the 70s with low humidity under partly sunny skies. Quite frankly, it was a wonderful spring afternoon.
The two seniors for Slocomb — Harleigh Sims and Jade Kelly — were honored on the field before the game with family members in case it ended up being the final game of their high school careers.
On an adjacent field, seniors for the Slocomb baseball team were to be honored as well before their game against Carroll.
Several schools throughout the Wiregrass have done the same the past two days as part of a smattering of games which have been held before spring sports hit the delay button.
Last Friday, the AHSAA mandated that all games be halted statewide following Tuesday’s play for at least two and a half weeks due to COVID-19, the virus which has crippled the world.
The Slocomb softball team would win against Carroll, 10-0 in five innings, thanks in large part to the play of Sims, who had two doubles, one driving in a run, and an RBI single in her final at-bat to end the game by way of the 10-run mercy rule.
Sims, a third baseman, has spent six years on the varsity. She certainly hopes her high school career will continue in a couple of weeks. Still, it was hard not to think about the possibility of it all being over.
“I’ve thought about it a lot, and if it is, I feel like we did the best we could and we fought to the end,” Sims said. “Hopefully it’s not (the last game) because we have a lot of fight left in us.”
Some tears started to puddle in her eyes when asked about the Senior Day ceremony.
“I cried twice today,” Sims said.
Kelly had a nice game as well with three hits, including an RBI single up the middle to make it an 8-0 game. She also had a few sparkling plays at shortstop.
Kelly called it “a hard pill to swallow” if there are no more games this season.
“We’re trying not to have that mindset (of the season ending), but if it is, maybe we can get the team together when all of this blows over and have one last practice.”
With that said, Kelly will continue to work.
“My plans are to get outside and throw the ball with somebody, or hit off the tee and try to do something productive,” Kelly said.
Sims and Kelly weren’t the only ones displaying strong games during the win.
Annie Dotson drove in a run with a single in the first inning and had a solo home run in the third that cleared the left field fence. Lacey Goddin drove in two runs with a double in the first inning, Gracen Hodges doubled in the fifth and Rayleigh Cotton singled in a run in the final inning.
In the circle, Cieara Baker pitched the first three innings and allowed just one hit — a soft liner into centerfield off the bat of Aubrie Beasley in the first inning. Baker struck out five.
Cotton pitched the final two innings, allowing three hits and striking out two.
The RedTops improved to 10-2 with the win, 2-0 in area play.
Slocomb coach Ashley Bell spent quite a while talking with her team after the game in trying to help them understand the situation.
“Regardless, life is bigger than the white lines,” Bell said. “I think our community and our nation is starting to realize it’s bigger than all of these activities that we have.
“I just want them to understand that, because this is probably the most crisis situation they’ve gone through in their entire lives. It is serious and they don’t need to be in crowds and they need to take care of their bodies.”
Before the game, Bell told her players, “The best is yet to come. You have to believe in that.”
It’s a phrase she has used often as a coach.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard that story or not about a grandma at Thanksgiving dinner always saying, ‘Keep your forks, the best is yet to come’ with dessert,” Bell explained.
“Each and every game there’s something better. That’s also the same in life. Like, the best is yet to come in life, whether it’s today, tomorrow or in heaven. The best is yet to come.”