Casey Burrill, the longtime baseball coach at Valencia West Ranch, spent Thursday night texting some of his distraught seniors after news came out from the William S. Hart Union High School District that all sports and practices in the district would cease until at least April 30 because of coronavirus concerns.
“Our last regular season game is April 30,” Burrill said Friday morning. “For all intents and purposes, that canceled our season. For our seniors, it was a difficult time. It’s very emotional.”
Burrill planned to meet with his team later Friday to discuss moving forward. He will be allowed to work with his players during baseball class, but the district announced on Friday that schools will close effective Monday and won’t resume until after spring break on April 13.
“We will practice,” he said of baseball class. “We will hit, throw and try to improve skills. I’m sure the seniors will want to be involved with that. I’m anticipating the next time West Ranch is on the field playing will be the summer.”
Things could change if the Southern Section decides to adjust the spring sports season, but so far, the section is leaving it up to individual schools and districts how to handle coping with coronavirus concerns and has made no commitment to changing any sports season. CIF commissioners throughout the state are scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss ideas and recommendations how to proceed.
In an email, Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons said, “Nothing has been determined at this point as there are many factors to consider that have yet to be discussed. The commissioners from the 10 CIF sections and the CIF state executive director will meet on Tuesday in Sacramento to discuss next steps. At this time, we are primarily focused on the health and safety of our member schools and their student-athletes. We will continue to monitor the situation, including gathering information on school closures/athletic participation suspensions and what effects those will have on spring sports.”
Baseball, softball, volleyball, track and field, tennis, golf and lacrosse are among the sports now in season. Playoffs are scheduled to begin in May. West Ranch has played 11 baseball games and was 3-0 in the Foothill League.
Tough way to end season. Was going to be the most fun one yet playing with and against the guys I’ve known since birth. We’re all in the same boat so now it’s time to grind and move on to the next chapter.— RJ Gordon (@rjgordon_21) March 13, 2020
West Ranch, Hart, Valencia, Golden Valley, Saugus and Canyon are directly affected by the district decision halting all sports competitions. For Saugus seniors, it is another moment of having to deal with adversity. The school was previously traumatized by a school shooting on Nov. 14 that killed two students. School was closed until Dec. 2. It led to the community adopting the “Saugus Strong” motto. Spring sport athletes are being tested again.
Later Friday, the school district announced that
Hart baseball coach Jim Ozella said he will talk with his players later Friday and try to offer hope.
“Try to give them a positive,” Ozella said. “We’re in a life of uncertainty right now and for high school students, you have to give them some hope and a positive side to this whole deal. I’m going to find out what we can and cannot do and is there a possibility of a revised schedule. Everybody is in the same boat. A lot of uncertainty.”
If the season is over, Burrill said he will try to help those seniors trying to convince college coaches to recruit them. “If there’s baseball being played somewhere, especially for the seniors who are looking to play, I would let them,” he said. “That has to be an individual decision. It’s unprecedented what we’re in. It’s no longer about West Ranch baseball trying to win a league title or CIF title. It’s about individual kids.”