The Eastern Kentucky University softball team was on an 18 game winning streak, the longest in NCAA Division I softball, after a doubleheader sweep of Bethune-Cookman University on Wednesday, March 11 in Daytona Beach before the Ohio Valley Conference announced that all spring sports would be canceled due to the threat of COVID-19.
The OVC announced on Monday, March 16 that all athletic competition would be canceled for the rest of the academic year.
When the news was announced, softball head coach Jane Worthington was disappointed, but concerned about her players health.
“My first reaction was disappointment and hopeful that it wouldn't completely get canceled,” Worthington said. “When it was, it was disappointing for the players. They’ve worked so hard this year and have done so well and I’m bummed for them.”
Worthington said her team has handled this situation with a positive mindset.
“I think some of them are still trying to figure it out,” Worthington said. “It is what it is and I think everyone is dealing with it (the cancellation) pretty well. Just trying to keep everyone healthy and in a safe place. Hopefully nobody gets it (COVID-19).”
The Colonels were in first place in the OVC and had a 22-2 record at the time of the cancellation.
“Our players have worked hard,” Worthington said. “We have such a good group. I just can't say enough about their character and attitude in general. Of course it went from disappointment to concern.”
Worthington credits the OVC for their response to the COVID-19 situation and for thinking about the student athletes.
“Nobody really knows how bad this situation is,” she said. “I think until they had a really good handle on it, they were going to try to do what was best for the players. They realized that we just couldn't play.”
EKU director of athletics, Matt Roan, released a statement about the cancellation of all spring sports with the same concern for the student athletes, fans and coaches.
“During this time of worldwide concern and uncertainty, EKU Sports supports this decision and the steps that have been taken to protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes, coaches, support staff, and campus community,” Roan said. “While these actions are understandably disappointing to many, including myself, please know that these decisions, while unprecedented, were developed after great consideration and are in the best interest of all. We look forward to working to mitigate the impact on our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans. In the meantime, we will continue supporting Colonel student-athletes in their pursuits of student success, personal development and total wellness. We look forward to the next time we can compete and represent our great institution and stakeholders.”
Worthington has never experienced anything like this in her 30 years of coaching college softball.
“You think after coaching for 30 years you would have seen it all, but that’s the one thing about coaching, you’ll never see it all. Things will keep coming up and that’s life in general,” Worthington said.