Softball players charge ahead

Contributed by Jeff Brown
Softball Coach Savannah Sloan speaks on continuing the season.

In the time of COVID-19, fans are understandably worried about the world of college sports. However, the Chargers’ softball coach, Savannah Sloan, said the show must go on and the team and faculty are taking measures to do just that.

Fans should expect to wear masks and practice social distancing during games once they start. Sloan said the athletics department is currently working on setting up a livestream system on the team’s Facebook page for those who need to stay at home. 

A returning pitcher from Williamsburg, Virginia, Madalyn Morton, is certainly looking forward to the season despite everything that happened last season, especially considering the Chargers’ cabin fever, which has certainly encouraged the team to go outside and play ball. 

“When we recruit, we don’t just recruit skill and talent, we also recruit character,” Sloan said, “So the girls we have brought in have really meshed well with the team. It’s like a family.”

With six new members being brought on the team and only two players lost, Sloan is confident the players are coming along just right. Morton also said the new players do have a lot of potential and she is excited for them to be on board.

The team has only had two full weeks of practice, in which they have been practicing the fundamentals, but Sloan is still very excited to see the team develop throughout the season. Practices are currently open and available to view at Star’s Field in Cartersville at 3 p.m. on weekdays, but spectators should be mindful, keep their distance and wear masks.

“She [Sloan] came in the middle of the season and she did a good job with us,” Morton said.

Morton’s opinion on coach Sloan is high and she believes that Sloan will make a fine coach this season. She is looking forward to the spring season and believes it to be a promising, full season. The team has a group prayer before each game, and coach Sloan even has the pitchers perform a mental exercise to psyche them up. 

“It’s all honor code because you can’t really mandate these things,” Sloan said, “They know how serious this is… They are doing everything they can to abide by it.”

The Athletics Department is doing everything that they can to ensure the team members are staying healthy. Before every practice and weight training session, they must answer a questionnaire pertaining to symptoms and have their temperature taken. They also are encouraged to stay amongst themselves and decrease the number of non-team members that they come into contact with. The team lives in groups within an apartment complex, in which they are only allowed to have their teammates as guests. Masks are required when the team is in the dugout, the gym and in public.

These precautions have proven to be successful so far, as no player has been diagnosed with COVID-19. However, the Athletics Department does have one extra step in protection. Regardless of whether or not test results are positive, if a team member needs testing, they must quarantine for two weeks. Those who were in contact with that individual must also be quarantined.

With only 60 days of practice in the season, 14 days off can be devastating. As another precaution, Morton said the team is only allowed to practice around eight hours a week. A time frame that can easily be harmed by a possible 14 day isolation. 

“It’s different outwardly looking, but the game stays the same,” Sloan expressed. “It’s just dealing with the challenges up to that point.”

GHC is currently cutting the Athletic Department by around $45,000 this semester due to a decrease in the student population, according to the Athletic Department. Some other schools have not been so lucky and have had to cut out programs altogether. Being sure to remind the team that they could lose everything, coach Sloan has been conditioning the team to take things day-by-day. However, Sloan believes that the team has already gotten through the worst last spring when the pandemic started and anything else to come is just another bump in the road.