The novel coronavirus pandemic has put a halt on sports at all levels. As the NBA was the first professional league to stop play due to the virus. But soon after many of the other associations in professional sports followed suit, the NFL, NHL, MLB suspended play, and the NCAA canceled its March Madness tournament.
The stoppage also affected community college athletics. The California Community College Athletic Association canceled all spring sports affecting many student-athletes who were in their last year of eligibility at their institutions. Still, luckily, the CCCAA has granted them an extra year of eligibility should they choose to stay.
Santa Ana College baseball and softball teams really felt the cancellation hard because both were in a trajectory to compete for championships. The baseball team had an 18-4 record and was one game behind the Cypress College Chargers for the best overall record in league play.
“We were having a great run. We were excited for the rest of the season, so it hurts to know that we had a great squad, and we’re not playing anymore, said Dons sophomore infielder Micah Wiggs.
The baseball team was also in the top three in many statistical categories like ranking second in RBIs with 164 and extra-base hits per game with 80 to lead the Orange Empire Conference.
“The Dons were making some noise in conference, and we were going to make noise in the playoffs. It really bummed everyone out that the season was canceled, sophomore infielder Derek Sims said.
Like the baseball team, the softball team, which at the time had 13-7 record, was also having a stellar season.
“The season still doesn’t feel like it’s been suspended. It feels like a dream or like we’re just on a break, and I’m gonna head back to play next week. It’s weird not being with my team every day,” sophomore outfielder Madelyn Hodge said.
Some athletes say they plan to return next season.
I really plan to stay another year because I can have a better season than I had this year. I want to see what kind of potential we are going to have as a squad and hopefully play an entire season,” Sims said.
“Luckily, I was granted another year, so I look forward to coming back stronger and more motivated than I was before,” Misty Iranpour said.
For other student-athletes, the COVID-19 ended their final year at SAC. It was the last season for the sophomore pitcher and infielder Brandi Kirkpatrick.
“I am very thankful for the CCCAA to give us the opportunity to come back to SAC for another year. But unfortunately, it is my time to move on from such an amazing program and school,” said Kirkpatrick. Before the pandemic, I already signed to Florida National University. I’m excited to start this new chapter in my life but sad to say goodbye.”
For Dons sophomore outfielder Frank Garcia, the cancellation hurt the team because they had their minds set on bringing a championship to Santa Ana College.
“What’s really upsetting is that we won’t get a chance to get Coach Niles and Don Popovich a championship ring because they deserve it, and it’s long overdue,” Garcia said.
Leaving SAC with a championship is what these athletes wanted. But, life had another plan, so as they say goodbye to Santa Ana, they will miss their teammates and coaches the most.
“I am going to miss SAC and its environment and my softball family. Santa Ana has been a really good place for me, and I am thankful I chose SAC for the first chapter in my life,” Kirkpatric said.