It was finally time for senior day.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the high school softball season in the commonwealth, including what is always a memorable day for seniors and their parents.
But 44 recent graduates from high schools in Timesland, the Lynchburg area and Waynesboro got to participate in the first night of the senior softball games Monday at the Arnold R. Burton Complex in Salem.
“It’s super disappointing having the senior season taken away, so having these games makes up for the one important game that everyone looks forward to,” Cave Spring graduate and Virginia signee Abby Weaver said.
Prior to Monday’s two games, the players were joined on the field by their parents for a second chance at the senior day ceremony they did not get to have at their individual schools in the spring.
Each player received a rose, and got to take a photo with her parents. Each player’s college plans, whether they involved softball or not, were announced on the public address system.
Lord Botetourt graduate Madison Gunter will be attending Virginia Tech as a nonplaying student, so she will not have a senior day ceremony in college. Monday was her only chance.
“Getting that special moment with our families that we didn’t get, it’s going to be really special for us to walk across the field with them,” she said before the ceremony. “Our family’s been through driving us everywhere and lessons, so getting to have that moment together is really special.”
William Byrd graduate and Lynchburg recruit Lexi Powell said having a senior ceremony was meaningful to her.
“I’ve seen both my [older] sisters have a senior ceremony, and I’m like, ‘I want to do that when I’m older,’ ” she said. “I finally get to have it happen. It might not be everything I wanted, but it’s going to be something different and I love it.”
William Fleming graduate Asia Fitzgerald, who will attend Virginia Western Community College, nervously called her mother before the ceremony to ask when she would be arriving.
Her mother made it in time.
“It’s very important for me to be here,” said Fitzgerald’s mother, Jessica Monroe.
Nancy Currin, the mother of Blacksburg graduate and Christopher Newport recruit Katie Currin, said the ceremony was bittersweet because it signified the end of a chapter for her daughter.
“I’ve known a lot of these girls for a long time,” Nancy Currin said. “It’s good to see them all together, which really wouldn’t have happened in a normal situation.”
For Katie Currin, the ceremony marked the ending to her high school career.
“I’ve been doing this for four years of my life, which is a big part of my life,” she said. “Now that it’s over, I get to have this one final thing, even though I didn’t have the season.
“This is like saying goodbye to this time.”
Rockbridge County graduate Tristan Ayers, who will attend Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, won’t be playing college softball. Monday’s ceremony was important to her.
“Not having a senior night was a little rough, so I think this will make up for it,” she said.
Jefferson Forest graduate JoAnna Whalen will be attending Radford as a nonplaying student, so she said Monday’s ceremony provided closure.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting this after getting our whole season canceled, so I’m very, very grateful,” she said. “This is my final sendoff.”
Christiansburg graduate Kyndall Stanley, who will be joining Radford as a recruited walk-on, was looking forward to the ceremony.
“Being announced in front of everyone, it’s something we’ve waited for our whole high school career,” she said. “High school was a big part of my life.”
Two of the 44 players were injured, so they threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
One of them was Staunton River graduate and Emory & Henry recruit Avery Adkins, who was in a Memorial Day car accident. She was only recently cleared to slowly return to normal activities.
The other was Brookville graduate and UVa signee Madison Harris, who was on crutches and in a walking boot Monday. She suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday while playing with her travel-ball team in a tournament in Georgia.
Harris did not want to miss Monday’s ceremony, though.
“[My parents] do a lot for me, so just having them out there is a big thing,” she said.
The players wore T-shirts that read “Seniors” and “Class of 2020” on the front.
They will be back for two more games at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Arnold R. Burton Complex.
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