Mar. 17—Almost one year to the day, Lafayette baseball coach Matt Jansen heard the news that he said he hoped wouldn't come: the baseball season would be put on pause due to increasing threats from COVID-19.
Current Lafayette senior Zachary Langley said it was tough news to hear.
"In one word, I'd probably have to describe it as a heartbreaker," Langley said.
The season was officially canceled about a month later, ending the high school career of two Irish seniors.
"We had a good squad last year, and I was looking forward to playing with our two seniors," current Lafayette senior Chance Herie said. "We're just hungrier than ever to get back to baseball, and I think we'll have a good season."
After nearly two years away from the diamond, the Lafayette baseball team will begin its new season this week.
"Speaking on behalf of everybody, we're certainly grateful to be having a season this year," Herie said. "It's just been fun to put in all the hard work that we have so far."
Last time the Irish took the field, they wrapped up their 2019 season with a 14-7 record, falling to eventual semifinalist Savannah, 2-1, in the district tournament.
The 2020 season would've seen the Irish look to bounce back from the close loss and advance even further, but they never got the chance.
Looking to take positives out of the situation, Herie said the year off gave them a chance to improve on a smaller scale.
"Every year, we wanted to get better and better and see how far we could push ourselves," he said. "I think we've really done that this year, putting in all the hard work and focusing on the simpler things."
The 2020 season also would've been the first for Jansen as head coach of Lafayette after coming over from Central.
"Our program is designed to continue to push people, build the program, make stronger players. Now that we have a new coaching staff, I feel like we're even stronger," Langley said. "Taking that last year off really started to let us build a foundation for our program."
The new season will be Jansen's first coaching on the field in his second year at the helm of the program. For the team's seniors, like Herie and Langley, it's their last chance to play for their high school, so they say they're making the most of it.
"We all live up to this moment, to play our senior season," Langley said. "After taking last season off, I think our seniors are really going to push forward, we're going to motivate the team, and we're going to achieve our goals."
And since it's been such a long time between games for the Irish, they said they could not be more prepared to return.
"We're all just super hungry to play," Herie said. "We're blessed to be given the opportunity to play and can't wait."
Lafayette begins its season Friday, as the Irish take on Bishop LeBlond.
Jacob Lang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowLang.