SHENANDOAH — Alan Knight called Thursday morning’s practice at Page County High School a “good practice” and said the team was headed home to prepare for an afternoon trip to Radford for Friday’s Virginia High School League Class 2 softball semifinals.
Less than three hours later, the veteran PCHS softball coach said he received word that the trip wouldn’t be happening for another week and he suddenly faced several challenges.
“We’ll just have to deal with it,” Knight said. “I’m stunned.”
Originally scheduled for today at 11 a.m. at Salem’s Moyer Complex, the VHSL announced Thursday morning that all Class 3 and Class 4 softball semifinals, including Turner Ashby softball against Skyline, will now be played on June 13 due to the weather forecast this weekend in Salem.
Class 3 and Class 4 baseball games were also postponed.
That was followed shortly by an announcement the Class 1 and 2 softball and baseball games, including the Panthers baseball game against Lebanon and Page softball facing Richlands, were both postponed as well.
The Page games were scheduled for today at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. at Radford University. Now, the baseball team will play June 13 at Calfee Park in Pulaski County while softball will remain at Radford University for its semifinal contest the same day. TA will still take on Skyline in Salem, but the start time is now at 9 a.m. on June 13.
“There are a lot of challenges that have been presented,” Knight said. “That’s just a long time to wait. Everybody is in the same boat. We’re all in the same situation, all found out at the same time. I’m sure most people aren’t too excited about it.”
VHSL communications director Mike McCall said that the overall reaction from the coaches and athletic directors has been one of understanding that the changes were forced due to the forecasted weather conditions.
He said the VHSL sat down Monday to go over various scenarios for each site and discussed alternate plans based on weather, fields, field surfaces and times.
“They would all prefer we didn’t have to have postponements and schedule changes, but they understand we’re trying to find solutions,” McCall said.
All three local coaches — Knight, Turner Ashby softball’s Clint Curry and Page baseball’s Wayne Comer — said they were under the impression that if anything got moved this weekend, it would be pushed back one day.
If it rained Friday and Saturday, the games would be moved to Monday and Tuesday, Curry said.
“I was thrown off completely,” Comer said. “I didn’t know anything about it. I knew it was calling for bad weather. They said that if the weather hit, it’d be backed up one day. That was it, though.”
McCall said that would have been the preferred option, but it wasn’t that easy.
“Thursday and Friday were the options presented to us at each of the sites,” McCall said. “There's a lot of moving parts when you have to secure a site, make sure the events are staffed with enough workers, ticket takers, security and all the other people that make our events successful. Thursday and Friday were the best options to make all that work.”
It was a wild morning Thursday as coaches said they got word of the news out of nowhere and had to quickly tell their players and put a plan in place for the upcoming week.
“I don’t what’s going on,” Comer said. “I just heard it was [postponed] and now they’re saying we’re playing Thursday and Friday of the upcoming week. We’re all in the same boat. There’s nothing we can do about it, so we just have to roll with the punches. Nobody said it was going to be easy.”
The challenges the coaches now face is keeping their teams focused for another week after getting them mentally prepared for the biggest games of the season over the past two days.
Curry said he’ll lean on the leadership of his three seniors — Makayla Cyzick, Carley Davis and Ashton Richmond — to help get the Knights through.
“We just going to have to try to keep ‘em reeled in for another week,” Curry said. “The good thing with that is I have senior leadership that will keep the girls reeled in, keep them focused and keep them where they need to be. I have 100 percent confidence in all of that. That will happen.”
Curry said the team will have a regular practice on Friday and then do some live scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday before departing for Salem on Wednesday evening.
That’s something that the third-year TA coach said was big, knowing that the school’s administration was willing to send the Knights down a day early and get them comfortable before playing at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning.
“The good thing is we won’t be doing any traveling up and down the road,” Curry said.
Knight said he was letting his players have Friday off because he didn’t think it’d be a very productive practice with everything else going on and noted that there were several events scheduled for next week that are suddenly up in the air, including a youth softball camp at PCHS that could now be postponed.
“That’s the going to be the balancing act,” Knight said. “I’m sorry, but I know I had at least three kids who were supposed to be on vacation next week. I’m going to hope they come to play. You know how that goes. It’s their vacation time and something they already had planned. We’ll see."
Despite the unknown now on what to expect and how to handle the upcoming week, Curry remained optimistic about the benefits of the extended break.
“It’s all good, man,” Curry said. “It’s all good. We’re just going to stay where we’re at. This gives the girls an opportunity to refocus a little bit. We’ll be OK.”