By the time fans and players began arriving for Berry College’s softball doubleheader with Hiram College on Friday, the ripple effect of the spread of COVID-19 had reached the world’s largest college campus.
Still, the Vikings went out and swept the Ohio team with a pair of 6-0 wins at Kay Williams Field. Before the game, Berry honored its two seniors, Mackenzie Flynt and Madison Morgan.
For them, and the rest of the team, this could be the end of their season.
Administrators announced Friday that Berry College would be extending its spring break through next week and closing its campus at least through April 3. During this time, all athletic activities will be suspended, including practices, meetings and competitions.
The move comes a day after Shorter University announced it would be suspending all athletic activity through April 10 and both Rome High School and Floyd County Schools suspended sports at least through March 27.
On top of Berry and Shorter’s own suspensions, both school’s athletic conferences came out with their own statements on Friday.
The Gulf South Conference, which includes Division II Shorter, announced it was suspending all athletic competitions indefinitely, while the Southern Athletic Association, which includes Division III Berry, announced that all conference competitions are suspended, meaning individual colleges can play games but they will not count toward conference records or championships.
In a letter to the Berry community, Director of Athletics Angel Mason said the decision to suspend Vikings athletics was not taken lightly.
“Once we evaluate as a college how we will move forward updates will be provided. As this pandemic evolves, we will strive to keep our community safe and informed. I ask for your flexibility and understanding as we continue to make decisions,” Mason stated in the letter.
Berry’s softball team certainly didn’t let the moment go to waste on Friday as they clamped down on Hiram’s defense all evening.
After holding a precarious 2-0 lead four innings in Game One, the Vikings pushed across four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hiram went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Lauren Baccari got the win with a one-hitter over seven innings. She also had three strikeouts.
Morgan went 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the sixth, Bayleigh Masterson opened up the scoring with a two-run single in the first and Samantha Crabtree was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Berry’s offense didn’t get going until the fourth inning in Game Two, with Brooke Whittemore hitting a two-run homer to left center to get the Vikings on the board. The junior would then top herself in the fifth with a three-run shot over the left field fence.
Whittemore finished 3-for-3 with five RBIs, while Hannan Razeg went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Madison Hollis held down the mound for the Vikings by scattering four hits and striking out nine while walking none in a complete-game effort.