The coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of people’s lives and sports are no exception.

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, followers of Governors athletics have been left to wonder how their favorite APSU team has been affected and what to look forward to when teams are tentatively able to compete. This week, fans will be updated on the effects that COVID-19 has played on the softball team.

On March 16, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ohio Valley Conference decided to cancel all athletic competition, in turn canceling the softball season less than a week before conference play was scheduled to begin. When head coach Kassie Stanfill heard this news, she was definitely caught off guard by the OVC’s decision.

“I don’t think we were prepared at all,” Stanfill said. “I just don’t think it was something you really could be prepared for. We talk about it just to kind of reminisce in a way, and it was one of the hardest coaching days, going into the locker room and telling your athletes that their season is over, and we may or may not get the year back again.”

Prior to the cancellation, the Govs were just beginning to hit their midseason stride. After starting the season with 16 straight road games that saw the team go 6-10, the Govs finished the season with a 5-2 homestand in the Governors classic and a doubleheader against Siena. 

This year’s Team 36, named for it being the 36th APSU softball team, brings a unique aspect to the program in the fact that they are able to bring back seniors for an additional year. 

Returning senior Drew Dudley throws across the infield in a 2019 game against Trevecca. ROBERT SMITH | APSU SPORTS INFORMATION
Returning senior Drew Dudley throws across the infield in a 2019 game against Trevecca.

On March 30, the Division 1 Council voted to give student-athletes who had their seasons impacted by the coronavirus an extra year of eligibility. All but one of the team’s seniors took this. 

“Team 36 is unique in the fact that we have seniors that came back,” Stanfill said. “We call them grannies. Essentially, we have five classes of athletes. So, we have the really experienced people who have been here for four years and they wanted to come back and put in more work.”

Along with the five returning seniors, Team 36 also welcomes five new freshmen to the team in Maddie Berner, Alyssa Archuleta, Kaitlin Woodruff, Mallory Stein and Mackenzie Guereu.

When the Governors return to play at Cathi Maynard Park in the spring fans should be excited of what is to come.  

“We are fun. We make everything exciting. There is never a dull moment on the field,” outfielder Bailey Shorter said. “You come out and you’re going to see bombs hit, stolen bases, strikeouts from the pitchers. We keep it as fast paced as possible, that way fans don’t get bored up there and stay intrigued to the game. So come watch us play.”

Under coach Stanfill and the 10 total seniors/grannies, APSU softball looks to win their first OVC title come the 2021 season.