Back at it: Spring sports begin seasons after last year's sudden stoppage

Daniel Mayes/Daily Citizen-News

Northwest Whitfield High School's baseball team watches their game against North Murray Thursday.

TUNNEL HILL — Head coach Todd Middleton's Northwest Whitfield High School baseball team is back on the field for a new season, one he hopes will actually get to conclude normally this time.

The Bruins' baseball team, along with the other area schools' spring sports — including golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and track — had their seasons abruptly cancelled last March as COVID-19 began its spread throughout the state and country. The Georgia High School Association first suspended competition on March 12, 2020, then called off the remainder of the season later that month.

"Everybody's been excited coming into the season," said Middleton, whose Bruins are out to a 4-1 start in the season's first two weeks. "Hopefully we keep it going and everything stays the same this time."

Baseball's first official day was Feb. 15, while girls and boys soccer started their seasons at the beginning of this month.

"After having to stop last year, it's good just to be back out there again with your team," said Jaime Mendiola, a senior on the Coahulla Creek boys soccer team. "You have your club team, but it's great to play on your school team."

Mendiola is thankful to hopefully finish out his senior season this year — something last year's seniors didn't get.

"I feel bad for those guys where it just ended and that was it for them," Mendiola said.

The sudden ceasing of the soccer season last spring created an interesting situation for the Dalton boys soccer team. The Catamounts are still technically defending champions, in that they won the last available state championship, their Class 6A title in 2019.

Now the Catamounts are trying to win their second straight championship a year late.

"It's been good just being able to get back out there," said Matt Cheaves, Dalton's head coach. "I know our guys were excited."

Cheaves said the period last year after the remainder of the season was cancelled was filled with uncertainty, but once fall sports resumed play last August amid the virus, he felt confident that spring sports could do the same.

"Once football happened, and then into basketball, you started to feel better about it not getting called off," Cheaves said.

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