NWC enacts protocols leaving stadium fan-less

Photo by Alex Barr

The Lewis & Clark softball team kicked off their 2021 season with a record of two-and-two. They split the recent home-opener series against Bushnell University, each winning one game apiece. The Pioneers’ upcoming series on March 13 against Willamette University will mark the one year anniversary of the cancellation of their previous 2020 spring season. The scene is far different now than it was at this time last year. New social distancing guidelines and safety protocols have created an unfamiliar atmosphere for the players. 

The prohibition of fans is the largest distinction from previous seasons. Second-baseman Lily Moffitt ’22 believes the absence of fans has had a subconscious effect on how the team plays. 

“I get excited and energetic on the field while I am playing…but when there are fans cheering for our team it gives that extra feel good experience and gets the team more into the game,” Moffitt said. 

Catcher Lindsey Flegel ’23 also felt that there was a piece of the game that was missing. 

“It is hard not having family there and I feel for the seniors that are playing without having their families able to watch some of the last games they will ever play,” Flegel said. 

During the games at the Huston Sports Complex, there is an LC employee chaperoning the stands in order to ensure the state’s guidelines are being properly observed. Oregon recently loosened COVID-19 restrictions from “extreme risk” to “high risk,” increasing the capacity of indoor facilities to 25 percent occupancy or 50 people total. Gov. Kate Brown J.D. ’85 recently recognized the large impact sports render in the health and wellness of students athletes. 

“School sports play an important role in fostering students’ mental, emotional and physical health,” Brown said on Twitter. 

Within the softball games, modifications have been undertaken to ensure the safety of the players. Typically, the umpire holds the set of game balls; unfortunately, with the virus at large, each team now holds its own set of game balls. It is the responsibility of whichever team is in the field to be in charge of and supply the softballs being used. Each team works hard to minimize cross contamination. At home games, the event staff retrieve the game balls. Spectators will be removed from the complex if they try to receive the balls without consent from the umpire or athletic director. 

Despite the new precautions, the team is still very optimistic about the 2021 season. Outfielder Jordyn Vierra ’23, and shortstop Kalea Kaui ’23, strongly believe this season will be a promising one.  

According to Vierra, the team is excited to play together again.

“The team as a whole has a very positive outlook on the season, as far as being able to play games and to practice,” Vierra said. “We are so glad to be together again and to play the game we know and love,” 

Kaui echoed her sentiments. 

“The season so far is looking strong as the team is starting to get to know each other really well,” Kaui said. “As games start to pick up, we are coming together as a team and producing wins, but most importantly having fun.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has shaken and reshaped the world of sports; however, LC athletics are back up and running. The LC softball team is hopeful that once conference play takes place, the COVID-19 protocols will loosen. Until then, the team is just happy to be competing once again. 

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