Softball players who recently graduated from area high schools will get a second chance next month to play with and against each other before heading off to college.
The VHSL canceled the 2020 spring sports season in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, devastating seniors who lost out on the final season of their high school softball careers. Teams did not get to play even one regular-season game.
So William Byrd assistant coach Kassie Brammer and several others are organizing four softball games for 2020 seniors from the region.
“For a lot of those girls, that’s going to be their last opportunity to play softball,” Brammer said Monday in a phone interview. “Some of those girls, they’ve probably been playing against each other since middle school, travel ball. … Trying to give them that last opportunity to get out on a ballfield, be together, play the sport and be honored for their accomplishments.”
The plan is for the games to be held July 20-21 at Lord Botetourt High School, pending Botetourt County governmental approval.
Brammer hopes to get enough players to field four teams. Games will be held at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. each night. Players will be saluted in pregame ceremonies the first night.
Brammer began reaching out to high school coaches and athletic directors last week. Others have been reaching out to Brammer. She hopes to have 40-50 girls participate.
She said 26 players have signed up so far, including Virginia signee Abby Weaver (Cave Spring); James Madison signee Meredith Wells (Lord Botetourt); Lynchburg recruit Lexi Powell (William Byrd); Christopher Newport recruit Katie Currin (Blacksburg); and Radford recruit Kyndall Stanley (Christiansburg).
“I didn’t have my senior season. I think being around all the seniors will be really fun and a good send-off,” Weaver said Monday. “I think my mom’s going to cry a lot.”
The deadline for players to register is July 10. Brammer said 13 schools have already had players commit, including Patrick Henry, James River, Franklin County, Staunton River, Rockbridge County, Hidden Valley, Jefferson Forest, William Byrd, Lord Botetourt, Cave Spring, Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Appomattox County.
“I just wanted to play with some high school teammates. Obviously didn’t get to have a season,” Wells said. “It’s going to be really nice to honor everyone … and to come together as a community.
“It’s going to be really fun and I’m super excited.”
All players from the region are welcome and may contact Brammer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If someone’s willing to travel two hours, that’s awesome,” said Brammer, a former William Byrd and JMU outfielder. “We would love to have any senior that’s interested.”
Seniors not only lost out on their final high school season but also on their senior day ceremony. So participating players and their parents will take part in pregame ceremonies on the field on July 20.
“Lexi Powell, I played with her older sister Danielle [at Byrd]. I remember Lexi running around the field; she was like 7 or 8. … Here she is a senior and couldn’t even get a senior day,” Brammer said. “It truly broke my heart to think that Lexi wasn’t going to be honored the way she deserved.
“We’ll give them a rose [in the July 20 pregame ceremonies] and we’ve got some photographers there to take a picture of them with their parents and fellow teammates … because that’s something they didn’t get.”
Brammer, Byrd assistant coach Melissa Vaughan and Byrd parents Lisa Powell and Denise Hodges got the idea for the games after learning that former William Byrd baseball coach and athletic director Gary Walthall was involved in planning two Aug. 1 games for 2020 area baseball seniors at Haley Toyota Field in Salem.
The VHSL won’t let the players wear their high school jerseys for the July 20-21 softball games, said Brammer. So money is being raised to buy new jerseys.
The VHSL has no problem with a school field being used for this type of event, according to VHSL associate director Tom Dolan.
Botetourt County director of recreation and facilities Jim Farmer said he is awaiting final approval this week from Botetourt County Administrator Gary Larrowe.
When a team is at bat during the July 20-21 games, most of its players will sit in the stands instead of in the dugout for social-distancing reasons.
There will also be social distancing for fans in the stands.
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