With a new skipper at the helm, East Mountain High School’s softball team won its first two games of the 2020 season—something it hasn’t done in three years.
Then, amidst the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the Lady Timberwolves’ promising season came to a grinding halt.
According to a statement on the New Mexico Activities Association’s website, and a letter that was sent to schools from the NMAA’s executive director, the season hasn’t been officially canceled yet. But the NMAA has suspended all spring sports including practices until further notice.
“The mood on the team has been pretty somber, especially for the seniors,” East Mountain’s new head coach Bill Radosevich said. “If the season doesn’t happen, they may not get to play their final year of softball.”
Two weeks ago, the Lady Timberwolves swept their season-opening doubleheader at Hot Springs in a mercy-ruled blowout, winning 22-0 in the first game and 36-2 in the second.
East Mountain hammered 31 hits in the twin bill, including a home run by freshman Olivia Ford and two triples by senior Nina Zahnle.
“Our goal was to go in and dominate the game and not let our foot off the pedal,” Radosevich said. “The girls hit the ball, our pitchers shut their batters down, they did an awesome job.”
Radosevich, in his first-ever high school coaching position, is the Lady T’Wolves’ fourth head coach in four years. He knows he’s inherited a team that has struggled the past three seasons. The Lady T’Wolves started last year’s campaign with seven straight losses and finished with a 6-20 record. They haven’t had a winning season since 2017.
But last week Radosevich said that with the talent and experience of this year’s team, taking the girls to the state championships was “a definite possibility.”
And during one of their final practices before the season was shut down, Zahnle and fellow senior Brooke Bishop shared their new coach’s exuberance.
“There’s a lot of excitement on this team that hasn’t been there,” Zahnle said.
“I’m super excited,” Bishop added. “We all get along really well, our personalities mix well, I think we’ll make it further this year.”
But that’s all up in the air right now.
The NMAA’s board of directors has scheduled a meeting on April 1 to discuss the shutdown and determine what course of action it will take.
Radosevich said he is hoping the season will eventually resume, and in the meantime, he’s trying to keep his players optimistic.
“If we end the season today, we’re undefeated,” Radosevich said, adding, “But I told the girls, I said, ‘In the grand scheme of your lives, this is a bump in the road. This is not the end of the world, this is just a story to tell in your lives. It’s just a game.’”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.