LYNNWOOD — The Meadowdale High School baseball team’s practice Thursday afternoon seemed just like any other mid-March outing during the prep sports season to the average bystander.
Players could be heard shouting directions and encouragement to teammates, with occasional light-hearted ribbing following a botched play. And the crack of bats connecting with baseballs echoed throughout the frigid and partly cloudy afternoon at Meadowdale High School.
It certainly wasn’t a run-of-the-mill March practice, though. It was the last time the Mavericks will take the field for an official practice for over a month.
The Edmonds School District announced Wednesday night all schools would be closed from Monday, March 16, until at least Friday, April 24, after Gov. Jay Inslee ordered for school closures in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“You’re gonna run across things in life, situations that you can’t control, and here’s one of them,” Meadowdale coach Bill Hummel said. “What the adults have kind of told (the players) is that there isn’t an event in our lifetimes that we can point to that has been anything like this. We’re just gonna control the things that we can control and not worry about the rest of it.”
Hummel said the team could still practice Friday and Saturday, but weather forecasts of heavy rain led to the decision to make Thursday’s meeting the final one until at least late-April.
The Edmonds School District had previously suspended all athletic competitions through April 12, but practices would still be allowed to go on as they are viewed as an extension of the school day.
“It definitely hit hard when we heard about it,” senior Zach Matson said of Wednesday’s announcement.
Meadowdale’s players have tried to stay positive despite the uncertainty surrounding their upcoming season.
“(We) just wanna put in as much work as we can and just hope for the best,” Matson said. “We’re not gonna take it like, ‘Oh, we’re done.’ We’re gonna do our best to push forward and move on with where this is going.”
Ultimately, there’s still some disappointment amongst the players.
Senior Casey Toler’s role on the team is as a pitcher only, so playing time is already limited in a full season.
“I don’t have a lot of games to play in,” he said, “and it’s a little more disappointing for us (pitchers only) because we don’t get as much playing time.”
The letdown isn’t just about playing time, either. The senior-laden Mavericks have high hopes for this season and believe it could be something special. They return all but two players and their entire pitching staff from a team that fell only one win shy of a state berth last season.
“If we don’t play any games, that would probably be the worst-case scenario because I’m gonna miss playing with all my friends out here,” senior Mason Vaughn said. “Especially for all the seniors, this would be a huge letdown because we had such high expectations coming into the season — state aspirations. It would be a big loss. But (we’re) just trying to take it one day at a time and have fun and get better.”
Hummel, who took over as Meadowdale’s head coach prior to the 2005 season after leading the junior varsity team from 2001-2004, said this is the best pitching staff he’s seen since arriving on campus.
“This is a talented team,” Hummel said. “I really feel bad for these kids if things get shut down completely. This is a group that you can see progressing a long way this year.”
Meadowdale’s players plan on keeping ready for whatever lies ahead this season by getting together over the break for unofficial captain-led practices to stay sharp.
“A lot of this stuff is nothing we can really control,” senior Luke Hunnewell said. “So whenever we can, we just come out here and work hard and get better. We’re hoping to have a season.”
One thing the Mavericks could control was enjoying their final official practice for the foreseeable future.
“We’re having as much fun as we can with it,” Matson said. “Just get some hard-work in and everything we need to do, but also like take it for what it is and enjoy it.“