College sports were abruptly canceled last week as concerns over the coronavirus escalated around the world.
It left the Arizona Wildcats baseball team wondering what could have been. A team with a loaded offense and an improved pitching staff was hoping to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years, and got off to a 10-5 start.
Now they will never now if they could have put it all together. Head coach Jay Johnson released a statement Wednesday addressing the lost season.
Here it is in its entirety:
“Two weeks ago, we were celebrating an awesome road win at Texas and were primed for a great season. There is no doubt in my mind this team was headed for special things and a great 2020 campaign. A lot has happened since then, all of which is necessary and understandable. We all need to do our part in taking care of our world and the health of everyone around us; nothing is bigger or more important than that.
“I am heartbroken for our players having something this meaningful to them taken away so fast, by something no one has control over. I am proud of their efforts, selflessness, and commitment to Arizona Baseball and the University of Arizona.
“It’s only been a couple of days but, selfishly, I miss high-fiving Donta Williams at third base after hitting a triple. I miss seeing Jacob Blas flying around the field making plays on defense and on the bases. I miss the confidence I felt having Austin Wells, Branden Boissiere, Ryan Holgate, or Matthew Dyer walking up to the plate with runners on base. I miss seeing Vince Vannelle coming into the game with the lead, knowing we were going to win that night. I miss taking the field four times a week in front of the greatest college baseball fans on the West Coast. I miss the excitement I had every time one of our new pitchers that we recruited came into the game and filled the strike zone like a seasoned veteran. I miss the energy in our dugout with every single player pushing in the same direction for the good of our team. I miss going to practice the next day and improving things that the game the night before told us we needed to improve. I miss the preparation for the next battle alongside our student-athletes and the anticipation of the next team photo we would take after a win over a quality opponent.
“What I know is that I am honored to be able to coach a great group of young men who are destined for great things at Arizona and beyond. We will be back, and the future is bright.
“For now, take care of your loved ones and do your part in being a great teammate for society.”