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KITTITAS – It’s a good thing Eric Sorensen is sticking to coaching baseball. His football refereeing skills aren’t up to par, and it showed during Kittitas High School baseball team’s 11 on 11 two-hand touch football game on Friday.

“It had some questionable calls for sure,” senior Justin Hudson said.

Questionable or not, the get-together is what Kittitas needed in a time of uncertainty. Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, nobody knows what the future holds for spring sports in the state of Washington.

Friday afternoon, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he would mandate the closure of schools in all of Washington from March 17 through at least April 24. This is a day after he shuttered all private and public schools in just King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

But with the pandemic becoming worse by the day, as the death total has risen to 37 in Washington, it was done in effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

“I don’t take these decisions lightly,” Inslee said at a news conference. “We’re doing this for the health of all Washingtonians.”

With school closures beginning Tuesday, that means no athletics until April 24. But for Kittitas baseball, hearing the news and then not being able to practice because of the snow, playing a 30-minute 11-on-11 football game was a nice distraction.

“Obviously as a senior, it’s pretty upsetting to hear your season’s going to be cut short by six weeks,” Wyatt Stickney said. “It was good to come out here and have a little fun in spite of the bad news that we heard today.”

Said head coach Sorensen: “I think there’s a lot of negativity going on right now. … I hope we gave these kids a half-hour of not worrying about that crap that is going on in this world. And I hope they worried about having fun with each other. We can’t build camaraderie for the next month, so hopefully, we did there.”

This was a season that Sorensen had circled on his calendar for quite some time. Kittitas lost only two seniors, brought back its core, and added a few freshmen who were set to contribute.

And after the mishap near the end of last season, losing its final four games to miss districts after qualifying for state the two seasons prior, Kittitas was optimistic and extremely motivated to get back into competition.

“This is my senior year and I want to end strong,” Hudson said who’s signed with Yakima Valley College baseball. “I think this is the team that could have done it. We still have this opportunity coming back – hopefully.”

Hopefully is right. No one knows what the status of COVID-19 will be when April 24 nears. If it doesn’t improve, spring sports might not even happen. And for athletes, that’s a frightening thought. More so for the seniors that could be the end of their athletic careers.

But Sorensen wants his team to play like there’s no tomorrow. When Monday rolls around, there’s a chance it will be their final practice together. During this hiatus, no practices are permitted.

“Our mentality as a team was just to come out and have as much fun as we can and control what we can control,” Stickney said.

Sorensen said with having enough kids to fill two teams, they’ll play a doubleheader on Monday versus eachother.

After that, the players are all on their own in terms of staying in shape for the possible return.

“It’s like I told the kids, there’s still an opportunity for you to find a cage somewhere, an opportunity to go play catch with your friends, obviously if it’s a safe environment,” Sorensen said. “You always preach to kids that your character and your baseball abilities judged on what you do when people aren’t watching – here’s a great test for it.”

If spring sports do return on that date, it will be interesting to see how schedules play out with missing over a month of the season.

“Hopefully the WIAA comes up with a great solution so the seniors don’t completely lose their season so that there’s still championship availability,” Sorensen said. “I think the programs that the kids took it upon themselves to get better are the teams that are going to win a state title.

“Let’s hope there’s that opportunity.”

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb.


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