Editor’s note: This column was written before Monday’s announcement that the NJCAA was ending all spring sports for the rest of the school year.

By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor

Imagine this… you’ve just been handed the most delicious-looking ice cream cone you have ever seen. It’s a double-dip cone with your favorite flavors, topped with gooey caramel and sprinkles.

Of course, you must also imagine a juicy cherry on top.

You have been looking forward to this ice cream cone for a long time – perhaps you had been anticipating this heavenly treat as part of a birthday tradition of some sort. Now, imagine a giant bird flies above you and snatches the dessert right as you’re about to get your first taste, then drops it on the ground directly in front of you. Then a kid on a bike pedals by and runs straight over it.

This heart-wrenching scenario is only a slight fraction of what it felt like when I was told the Hutchinson Community College softball season was canceled because of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Our team has improved immensely since the fall season – mostly due to our amazing chemistry. We were not even halfway through the season, and yet we beat a team (Butler) that we haven’t defeated since 2006, broken the stolen base record (shoutout to Lexi Williams with 28 stolen bases) and in our first conference doubleheader, we beat Colby by 21 runs. I wish I could capitalize numbers. 

This is how I relate the ice cream to being so scrumptious – the delectable caramel, the tasty sprinkles. This is how our team is.

Taylor Ullery’s clutch home runs – top-tier cherry. Maryssa Rollin’s whopping 32 RBIs – without a doubt, is better than the crunchy cone. Natalie Bevan’s hacky-sack skills – incomparable to even the best flavor of ice cream in the world (mint chocolate chip, of course). Our dugout’s continuous intensity – better than any ice cream cone could make anyone feel. 

The potential of this team was insane. We could have made history. 

Usually, I like to look at the positive side of everything. However, social media isn’t helping. The world is shutting down quicker than I could have imagined. 

My heart aches for the athletes around the world whose careers were so abruptly ruined. I can’t even wrap my brain around what I would be feeling if I was a senior at Augusta High School again. Maybe I would have never won the Class 4A State Championship in softball. Or what if I was a sophomore this year… the last at-bat of my life would have really been a roll-over groundout to the second baseman.

Within all of this madness, at least we know no spring sport college-athlete will be charged for this year’s participation. Meaning we get another year of eligibility. 

Perhaps, maybe we could buy another ice cream cone.

Bailey Pennycuff is an Augusta freshman in Pre-Dental Hygiene. She is The Collegian’s Co-Sports Editor and an outfielder for the Blue Dragon softball team.

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