CORNING - Tuesday afternoon the Corning Hawks varsity softball team was slated to open their regular season against Vestal.
Corning is coming off the first state championship in the program’s history and was primed to make another run.
However, the uncertainty of this season due to the coronavirus has put the Hawks in a bind.
In the meantime, Corning is trying to make the best of a tough situation.
“We’ve been keeping in touch with our kids on a daily basis, sharing workouts, sharing teaching videos and the kids have been sending their feedback,” Corning head coach Mike Johnston said. “We’ve been trying to keep it as normal as possible.”
While the news of the spring season being delayed after just five days of practice wouldn’t bode well for some teams, the core of the Hawks are returners, which could give Corning a leg up if and when the season were to return.
“The good news is that we had a pretty good core of kids coming back,” said Johnston. “Seven of nine starters. The kids understand the system.”
One loss the Hawks will have to figure out if and when the season does return is the spot in the circle following the departure of superstar pitcher Laura Bennett.
Bennett was on the roster of Division II LeMoyne when the announcement came down of all college sports being canceled for the spring season.
The extravagance of what Bennett did last postseason isn’t likely to be repeated, but Corning has capable arms that are ready to go.
“I had a couple kids that pitched with me in travel ball,” said Johnston. “Emily VanDelinder was going to be number one on the mound. Erin Austin would have thrown. We have kids that have been tested.”
A key returning hitter and one of the many key cogs in a potent lineup is Atalyia Rijo.
Rijo, now a sophomore, has garnered interest from multiple Division I teams after raking .481 in 24 games including the same mark in the postseason on the Hawks’ run to the title.
Health and safety of the athletes and coaches is a top priority according to Johnston, but Corning’s four seniors would like to have some type of season if possible.
If the season is canned due to the pandemic, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call the Hawks two-time defending state champions.
“It has a nice ring to it,” Johnston said with a chuckle.