Jones’ disappointment in losing quickly transformed into something more dramatic when she saw Dr. Kendall Rainey, the school’s athletic director, waiting beside the Cavaliers’ dugout.
“As soon as we saw her, we all just sort of lost it,” Jones recalled.
Moments later, the fears of Jones and her teammates were confirmed. Rainey was there to tell them their season was over.
Rainey had to deliver the bad news to all the UVA Wise spring sports teams after the coronavirus threat forced school officials to make the crushing decision.
Like most colleges around the nation, UVA Wise canceled all spring sports — softball, baseball, lacrosse, golf and tennis — as well as on-campus classes for the rest of the semester.
“It was devastating,” said Jones, a junior who was a multisport start at Eastside in Coeburn. “It’s just kind of heartbreaking. You work all year to get on the field and do what you love and then it’s just gone.”
Jones said it was even more devastating for the team’s six seniors: Nikki Smith, Taylor Woodlief, Melissa Bartley, Julia Hoy, Raychel Lapallo and Alexis Sheenan.
While the NCAA made the extraordinary move of granting spring sports athletes another year of eligibility, Jones said she’s not sure how many, if any, of her senior teammates will come back and play.
After all, they’ve already made plans to move forward with their lives.
“It’s just really, really sad,” Jones said.
LEADER OF THE PACK
UVA Wise was just starting SAC play when the season ended. The Cavs (10-4, 1-3) were beginning to find their groove.
And Jones was a big reason.
The junior infielder not only led the team in several categories, she also ranked high statistically in NCAA Division II. Nationally Jones was second in slugging percentage (1.046), third in home runs (9) and total bases (68), eighth in doubles (10) and 15th in on-base percentage (.571).
“I try not to look at all that stuff,” Jones noted.
Still, she said she would have liked to have seen what would have happened with the numbers if she had the opportunity to play a full season.
A NEW NORMAL
Jones said students had two days to pack up and leave campus after receiving the news. Now they’re all making adjustments to living with the realities of a health emergency.
That means slowing down a lot.
“I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so little to do,” Jones said.
She also can’t remember a spring when she was not playing softball.
Jones has started online classes and is trying to keep busy physically.
“I’ve been trying to work out some on my own and my younger sister, who plays softball at Eastside, we’ve been doing some drills at the Little League field,” Jones said.