UH-Hilo’s softball team took care of its business against the toughest teams on its schedule and was eager to build momentum against the back end. The Vulcans baseball team eyed an advantageous stretch as well and the chance to forge a contender.
But business is now officially closed.
The Pacific West Conference and its member institutions agreed Monday to cancel the remainder of their spring athletic calender because of the threat of the coronavirus outbreak, also wiping out the remainder of UHH’s seasons in men’s and women’s golf and men and women’s tennis.
“The COVID-19 situation continues to change so rapidly with new federal guidelines about group gatherings and social distancing,” UHH athletic director Patrick Guillen said in a release. “We want to be thoughtful and take every precaution necessary.”
After the NCAA canceled its winter and spring championships last week, the governing body announced that all student-athletes that competed in the shortened spring season can request a waiver and will not lose a year of eligibility. That was a welcome silver lining for UHH softball coach Callen Perreira and baseball skipper Kallen Miyataki.
“I told (the team) that this situation at the moment is bigger than softball,” Perreira said. “They need to take care of themselves and think about their families.”
Knowing his players would retain their eligibility, Miyataki was already looking ahead to next season.
“It’s good and bad,” Miyataki said. “With the COVID-19 in all aspects, you have to think about safety.
“Hopefully, everyone stays healthy.”
But it hard was for both coaches not to think about what might have been.
UHH softball (11-10) went 6-3 against the higher-rated teams in the PacWest after finishing the season on a three-game winning streak against No. 8 Concordia. Vying for their first postseason appearance since 2013, Perreira was looking ahead to what on paper was the softer portion of its schedule as the program searched for its first postseason appearances since 2013.
“We knew if we took care of business we’d have a good chance at a championship,” Perreira said. “But it’s completely out of our control.”
Looking to build off a breakthrough winning season in 2019, UHH baseball (4-8 overall) was 4-2 in PacWest play and staring at eight combined games against cellar-dwellers Academy of Art and Holy Names.
“I felt that we were going to make a move,” Miyataki said. “The trip to the mainland would have really helped us.
“I thought we would get some wins and have a chance to heading into the Concordia series to finish first or second in the conference.”
While UHH prepares for online instruction until at least April 13 once classes resume after spring break, Perreira and Miyataki face some unexpected time off. A recruiting ban is in effect for all sports until April 15. No team practices are allowed until the next school year.
Perreira said Monday he was at his full-time home in Las Vegas “trying to take care of the team, being in communication with them to find out what they need.”
“Beyond softball, (COVID-19) is a big deal, especially on the mainland,” he said.
Along with roster management, certain coaches may face tricky scholarship questions regarding how to delve out their allotted financial pie since seniors could decide to come back next season, joining freshman who have signed letters of intent.
Miyataki didn’t anticipate any issues in regards to scholarships. The team was dealt a blow before the season when ace left-hander decided to redshirt to rehab an injury, but everyone, in essence, ended up redshirting in 2020.
“Looking forward to getting Dylan back,” Miyataki said. “Our pitching is going to be strong next season. One year of maturity will make a difference.”