On March 12, the Elizabeth High School baseball team was getting ready to play the No. 1 team in the state, Cheyenne Mountain.
That game would have been an excellent measuring stick for head coach Andrew Melton and the Cardinals – it would have given them an idea of where they were at competitively heading into the season.
However, mere hours before first pitch, their season was postponed – perhaps indefinitely.
There’s no way to get away from that stark reality.
Even the baseball diamond, once a sanctuary, becomes a reminder of what could have been.
“I hit about 100 balls in the cage,” said senior Kellen McCain, who continues to prepare for a season that may not arrive.
“It kind of hit me a little bit like ‘wow it could all be over.’”
This was a year that Elizabeth was poised to be a state title contender.
“The community that knows the Elizabeth baseball program surrounding us had high hopes and high expectations for going into this season,” Melton said.
While a lot of teams would say that, Melton knew that the blend of experience and talent he had was something special.
These seniors, the time was now,” Melton said. “They grew up playing together so when you have a group that’s already gelled like that then the talks become more serious and they become more real and realistic.”
Many of players worked for this their entire young lives; now, their dream is on hold until at least late April.
“It’s tough, this was their time,” Melton said. “I know they all wanted to go out positively and I’m hoping we can still do that.”
The Cardinals continue clinging to hope.
All we can really do at this point is try to stay positive,” McCain said. “The game’s going to call your name someday and you never know when that’s going to be called. So play every game like it’s your last and put your heart into everything you can.”
Baseball’s on hold, but this community remains tight. Coach Melton checks in on his guys using Zoom.
“Just so I can talk to them about how they’re doing, not about baseball,” Melton said. “It’s more about how’s everybody doing. It’s bigger than a game. This is about your life, your wellbeing, and your health. Once things are good then we’re back and we’re going.”
When the game returns, you better believe the Cardinals will be ready.
“I really want to see how we can do,” McCain said. “We have a really good team and we’re just a band of brothers that is on a mission.”