Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories about the effects of the cancellation of the spring sports season.

Mt. Abram pitcher Nate Luce pitches against Mountain Valley at Hosmer Field in Rumford last season. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal

Nate Luce, Jed Zelie and Ethan Powell are among millions of frustrated seniors who won’t attend a prom, walk across a stage to proudly collect their high-school diplomas or play together in their final baseball season.

COVID-19 put an abrupt end to a finale that most seniors strive for after four years of high school.

Speak to any of the three Mt. Abram baseball players and you will hear the volume in their voices dip as the disappointment rises when they discuss a spring season without baseball.

“I try to think more about the bigger picture,” Luce said. “Obviously, there are people dying. But it is definitely disappointing. I feel like my whole life I have been looking forward to a senior-year baseball season and it gets taken away, not to mention my senior year and everything else. Baseball is pretty big for me.

“It is like I could never have expected this. I don’t know. It is just horrible,” he added. “It just stinks that it had to happen to this senior crew.”

The senior pitcher, who has also been a utility player as well for the Roadrunners, also had a fine season in basketball. To combat feelings of isolation, Luce stays in touch with his buddies and admits video games help alleviate the boredom, too.

But not stepping onto the baseball diamond with his team really gnaws at him.

“We pretty much had the same returning crew,” said Luce, who is leaning toward Thomas College and a chance to play baseball there. “We didn’t lose any seniors. We lost one junior. Realistically, we had the same crew coming back and things were looking up.”

Powell is hoping American Legion Baseball is still on for the summer and he also wants to help Mt. Abram coach Jeff Pillsbury with the team next season.

“I have pride in my school and in baseball. That’s my favorite sport,” Powell added. “I have always loved it.”

At first, he didn’t mind that school was stopped due to severity of the coronavirus outbreak, but then Powell, who will be attending Washington County Community College in the fall, realized there would be no baseball season, too.

“I thought it would be just a couple of weeks,” said Powell, an  outfielder. “A week turned into two months and now no school. I talked to a few of the guys and they are bumming, too.”

Zelie, a childhood cancer survivor, shared his lament over a spring with no high school baseball and all the ceremonies that accompany graduation.

“You kind of want to have your senior year out of any year,” said Zelie, who is looking at two state colleges to study engineering. “It is like the big one. I missed a couple of years, already. I understand it for general health protection. It makes sense.”

Monmouth’s Kane Gould is out as he can’t beat throw to Mt. Ararat first baseman Jed Zelie during a game at Monmouth Academy the past season. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Plenty of online school work has kept the three-sport player busy to avoid the boredom of staying home. But knowing that his team could have made a strong run in the postseason still frustrates Zelie.

“Last year, we didn’t have any seniors and we played fairly well,” he said. “This year we would have lost nobody.

“It would have been nice to see Mt. Abram High School  meet up with the best because we don’t have the best track record,” he added. “But our school puts in a lot of work and ….the past few years we’ve been coming up and doing better and better.

FEELING LEFT BEHIND

Pillsbury’s heart to goes out to his seniors, but he is still in a haze of disbelief over the cancellation of the season.

“Initially, and it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I was thinking well, best scenario is we only loose part of our season, and even today, you wonder about Babe Ruth, Legion and summer ball league, even,” Pillsbury said. “The initial response is you feel bad for yourself, and then my seniors like Nate Luce and Ethan Powell and those guys.I mean baseball is Ethan’s sport. This the sport he looked forward to every year. You feel bad for your seniors for sure. I think I am still in a denial stage to be honest with you.

Monmouth’s Dylan Lajoie is out at first as Mt. Abram first baseman Ethan Powell receives a throw in Monmouth last season. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“We had a bunch exhibitions scheduled,” Pillsbury said. “Of course, we didn’t play them, but in terms of field conditions, this is one of the better springs we’ve had.”

Pillsbury believes the Roadrunners would have made a strong showing in the Mountain Valley Conference and the postseason.

“I think my boys would have had a pretty good year,” Pillsbury said. “I think Nate had an opportunity to be a first-team, all-conference kid — if he played up to his ability. I think this is the year where he could have been the man or one of the top kids in the conference.”

Zelie knew the season cancellation would weigh heavy on his coach.

“He is probably having the hardest time with it,” Zelie said. “If there is one guy who has a problem with this baseball season (being nixed), it would be him. He would give anything to have a baseball season, I will tell you that.”

Ditto for the three seniors.


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