They were coming off an 18-5 season in 2019 that saw them win the Southern Lakes Conference title and earn a No. 1 seed in their WIAA Division 1 tournament bracket. Then they were stymied in a 1-0 loss to Beloit Memorial in a sectional semifinal.

“They started hitting the gym in groups in October. They were coming in two days a week, hitting in the cages, coming Sunday to open gyms. All of them. Every single one of them were ready,” Elks coach Steve Remington said. “The fact we got the rug pulled out from under us basically the first day we were going to start, that hurt.”

Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic halted the spring season on what was scheduled to be the first official day of softball practice.

It has since caused the WIAA to cancel the entire spring season and tournament. And though the WIAA voted to allow 30 days of contact for spring sports this summer—potentially in July if regulations are lifted or relaxed—many schools, districts and conferences have announced they will not participate.

For seniors, that means their final sports season will never happen. Proms are out, too. Graduations might be celebrated virtually. Grad parties are up in the air.

It has been a tough couple months for just about everyone. But we particularly hurt for high school seniors and all they are missing out on this spring.

And that’s why The Gazette, with some help from our Adams Publishing Group teammates, will be honoring at least one area spring sport student-athlete in our sports section every day throughout the month of May.

Some of these seniors might have had state tournament aspirations, like the Elkhorn softball players described above. Others might not have been in any sort of championship contention but had been working hard or had overcome adversity just to be ready to play this spring.

We will feature at least one senior athlete from each of the 14 schools in our primary coverage area and do our best to cover each of the spring sports along the way.

We will not be able to make up for all that the Class of 2020 is missing out on. But at the very least, the group deserves to have its stories told.

It’s the least we can do.

Eric Schmoldt is The Gazette sports editor. You can contact him at eschmoldt@ gazettextra.com.

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