GREENBRIER, Ark. — Spring athletes all over the country saw their seasons end much too early. For high school baseball, less than 10 games were played before COVID-19 stepped in and canceled the season.
“I was devastated,” 2020 Arkansas commit Clayton Gray said.
For NCAA spring sports, all players get another year of eligibility, but high school athletes don’t. They move on.
“It’s really tough right now just considering all the hard work I’ve put in and my team has put in during the Summer and Fall, waking up early at 6:00 a.m. for workouts,” Gray added. “It feels like a lot of things have been left unfinished.”
Gray and Cayden Wallace are both committed to play baseball at the University of Arkansas next season.
Gray plays outfield and shortstop for Cabot high school, and Wallace plays anywhere for the Greenbrier Panthers.
With the rest of the season canceled, now they have to rely on quarantined home workouts to better themselves to prep for the next level.
“Senior season is one of the biggest years that you can have in high school with the draft and colleges still looking at you,” said Gray.
“It definitely affects a lot of things,” Wallace said. “I’m just going to control what I can and take advantage of what I can and get bigger, faster, stronger through all this and do whatever I can to get ready for the next step.”
“Doing chores around the house, get some light runs in,” Gray said. “We have a cage, so I’ve been working out of that and still throwing.”
“I’m thankful I can do everything in my backyard,” Wallace added. “I’m one of the lucky ones, where my dad built a batting cage in the backyard when we were younger and taking advantage of that.”
At least Gray and Wallace are committed to play somewhere. Other players who were looking to make 2020 a year to get recruited have to find another way to show off their talent.
“Honestly I don’t know what you’re supposed to do,” Gray said.
“I feel real bad for them,” Wallace said. “There’s some guys who I think could play at another level, but now they’re not going to get the chance to.”
In 2020 there was only one senior on the Razorback’s roster. If he, and other players who don’t declare for the draft, decide to stay then it would most likely be harder for the incoming freshmen to get playing time.
“We’re going to have to prove ourselves even more,” Wallace said. “I think overall it’ll make us better people and players.”
“If they get another year, they get another year,” Gray said. “That’s just more people you’re going to have to compete with.”
Through all the disappointment this situation brings, the players are still finding strength and perseverance.
“God’s got big plans,” Wallace said. “None of us know what it is, and no one knows why this is happening, but we know he’s got a better plan ahead. It’s definitely weird, but there’s not much we can do about it. We know all the nurses and doctors are doing the best they can and we need to thank them for that. We’re doing all we can and trying not to get down.”
The future is uncertain for every athlete, the MLB draft is set for June 10 through June 12. According to Athlon Sports, Cayden Wallace is the No. 47 high school prospect in the country, but we’ll see if the draft changes or if the cancellation of the season affects anything else going forward.