PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Most high school softball players haven’t played competitive games since last year. With restrictions on youth sports loosening, area travel teams have begun their summer seasons, including the Peoria Sluggers 18U program.
“We had such a big gap between softball, so we really had to like figure out how to do everything on our own in practices,” Butler University freshman Monique Hoosen said. “But yeah, it’s good to be back.”
This summer is escially important to recent high school graduates who didn’t get to play softball during their senior year due to the COVID-19 shutdown. They see this summer as a last chapter to their high school careers and some closure.
“These girls definitely have a special place in my heart, so being able to play with them in our own area, it’s a lot of good competition and being able to see that before college is really nice,” Illinois-Chicago freshman Emma Crowley said.
“It’s kind of bittersweet that it’s our last season together, but we’re enjoying it and we’ll see how this summer plays out,” Lewis University Kaelyn Leverson said. “Hopefully people will be able to come out and start watching us again.”
With social distancing and player safety the main priority of summer tournaments, players are also learning a valuable lesson through the corona virus pandemic.
“You definetly realize from everything that has happened that we have to go out and play every game like it’s your last,” Brimfield senior Haley Wallace said. “That’s really been an important factor coming out of this. But just not being able to play this spring made us all want to work harder.”