Tilghman Softball Seniors Remain Hopeful For Games
By Chelsea Ladd
MCCRACKEN COUNTY - If you were to take a look at the Paducah Tilghman High School softball field, you would expect to hear the electric roars coming from the bleachers, the thud of a yellow ball hitting against a leather glove, and the echoes of teammates cheering for one another in the seventh inning when the game is on the line. Unfortunately, the softball field remains eerily quiet. 

The dugout is left with dust covering the bench, an old sign covered with mud lies on the ground with Luke 2:15 and First Baptist painted proudly in cursive, second base remains untouched, and the Tornado softball banner hangs in center field awaiting the laughter that once filled the field. 

By all accounts, the Lady Tornado softball team should have already had a win or two in their pocket. The dugout should be filled with cheers, second base should be covered in dirt, and the banner should be greeting the Lady Tornado each with sprint and ball hit to the fence. 

Keiler Belt, Emma Massey and Sarah Kate Reed should have one last opportunity to walk out on their home field together as teammates, as sisters, and as graduating seniors. 

Due to the novel coronavirus, this opportunity remains unknown. 

“It’s honestly been life changing.” Massey, the 2019 All-Purchase catcher said. “It’s shown me how much time I took for granted.”

As of last week, the KHSAA has extended the athletic dead period for all sports and sport-activities due to COVID-19 until May 1, 2020. 

“My team and I were expecting to have a great season and now sadly, we won’t get that.” Massey continued. “It’s heartbreaking that I won’t be able to play with the other seniors ever again.”

Massey returned after an excellent 2019 season and looked to earn All-Purchase once again this season. In her junior season, she batted leadoff, hitting .359 and boasting an on-base percentage of .437. 

The catcher will be hanging up her cleats and gear in the fall to attend the University of Louisville. She will be pursuing a degree in nursing. 

“I had to put up my uniform sooner than I could’ve ever imagined,” said Massey.

Fellow senior and long-time PTHS softball player, Belt wants one more game with her team. 

“It has been really hard – to have something that you have looked forward to for years, just completely stripped from you,” Belt said.

Belt returned to play her senior year after leading the team in 2019 with 23 RBIs and nine doubles – the team had a combined total of 61 doubles last season. She also held a batting average of .294 as a junior. 

“I played my last softball game and I had no clue.” said Belt, “It’s heartbreaking but I completely understand why it was necessary. All I want is to play one last game with all my teammates.” 

Like fellow senior Massey, Belt will be hanging up her glove and bat in the fall. She will head to the University of Kentucky to pursue her degree and career in accounting. 

Second basemen and catcher Reed agreed that this season would have been a season to remember. 

“It was honestly heartbreaking. I didn’t know what to do at that point. We had so much potential this year,” said Reed. 

Reed racked up a batting average of .225 last season with 27 hits and led her team in walks with 13. Known on the team as “SK,” she always looked to be a leader on the team. 

“I was crushed that I wouldn’t be able to play with a team that I have grown to love over only a couple of months,”  Reed said. “I would do anything to get on the field with Keiler and Emma for one last game. I just wish I could wear #22 for just one more time.”

In the fall, like both Massey and Belt, she will head off to her pursue her degree. Reed will attend the University of Louisville for nursing. 

Coach Sarah Puckett Trover has been left in limbo as well.

“Usually at this time of year, I’m running from my office straight to the field.” The Tilghman coach said. “It went from being non-stop to nothing and it’s very weird being home when I know in my heart, I should be at the field with the girls.” 

After finishing the 2019 season with a 14-19 record and making it to the First Region semifinals, Trover wholeheartedly agreed that this season felt different. 

“We had really worked on our stamina in the off-season and at practice – being both mentally and physically ready to finish strong in the sixth and seventh innings,” said Trover. “Last year, we were good for at least five, but the last two innings typically ended up being our downfall.” 

Like her seniors, Trover wishes for one last game. 

“I think one of the biggest things with my seniors, they just want one more game together,” said Trover.  “One last shot before hanging it up. All of my girls (seniors), although they could all go on and play college softball – decided not to, focusing on their majors.”

The novel coronavirus has left the world fragile and looking for hope. Now it leaves the Lady Tornado asking ‘what could or would have been’ in the 2020 high school fastpitch softball season. “This was it for my seniors.” 

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Published 03:22 PM, Wednesday Apr. 08, 2020
Updated 06:11 AM, Tuesday Apr. 14, 2020



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