Tigers baseball and softball teams open Tuesday in what is expected to be a full season

By The Leader Staff
Lemoore's Reese Sartin helped pitch the Tigers to a 15-1 victory Tuesday on the school's diamond in their season opener.
Lemoore's Reese Sartin helped pitch the Tigers to a 15-1 victory Tuesday on the school's diamond in their season opener.
Photo by Gary Feinstein/Feinsteinfotos

Lemoore High School began its baseball and softball seasons Tuesday afternoon and came away with a split decision. Much like their professional and college counterparts, the fans were required to mask up. The Central Section CIF also requires its coaches, and athletes to wear masks.

Local sports enthusiasts certainly haven’t had much to cheer about during this once-in-a-century pandemic, a global catastrophe that worldwide has caused 2.62 million deaths, including over 500,000 fatalities in the United States. 

However, Lemoore's varsity baseball and softball teams got their seasons underway. While Lemoore's boys' varsity squad came up with a big 15-1 victory over visiting Hanford West, Lemoore's softballers, also playing at home, struggled in an 11-0 loss to visiting Tulare Union. 

The pandemic has certainly taken a toll on area schools, forcing students into awkward schedules and online learning. It is hardly the kind of instruction that benefits the typical elementary or high school student.

Lemoore's varsity softball pitcher, Leslie Segura, pitched in the Tigers' opener against Tulare Union on Lemoore's home turf.
Lemoore's varsity softball pitcher, Leslie Segura, pitched in the Tigers' opener against Tulare Union on Lemoore's home turf.
Photo by Gary Feinstein/Feinsteinfotos

It has also decimated – for the most part – local sporting events, thanks to the hold placed months ago on high school sports by the Central Section CIF and California health officials.

According to Lemoore High School Athletic Director Brady Holaday, Lemoore High School is back in the game – so to speak – as are many Central Section schools.

The Tigers were expected to play their first football game at Sanger High on March 19 against Sanger, but due to COVID-19 issues, the game was canceled, and instead, the two teams held a scrimmage on Saturday, March 20.

The Tigers will make another attempt at football when they host Hanford West on Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. (Update) Lemoore High School canceled Friday night's (March 26) opener due to COVID-19 issues with the Tigers' first opponent, Hanford West). In fact, all four games planned for this shortened season will be held in Tiger Stadium.

See Lemoore High School’s sports schedules at maxpreps.com.

The spring sports revival is limited to varsity teams only. There won’t be any junior varsity or freshmen contests. Local teams can also compete against schools from an adjacent county and for Lemoore, including Fresno, Tulare, Kern, and San Luis Obispo counties.

Aside from some immediate family members, fans will not be allowed to witness local sporting events. “Right now, our sporting events are not open to the public. The only fans we’re allowed to have at our sporting events are immediate household family members only,” said Holaday.

Finally, there won’t be any league championships, but the Tigers will host Hanford High School in the annual Milk Can Game – a contest for the ages, and one local fans will certainly remember.

The only Kings County school not to participate in football was Sierra Pacific High School.

Technically, Kings County, as is much of the state during COVID-19, remains purple, which as of March 9, means the coronavirus is widespread in California. In fact, a glance at the state’s map reveals a purple-dominated state. Technically, the only sports allowed include cross country, golf, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, diving, tennis, track, and field.

However, according to Lemoore’s athletic director, the CIF and local counties gave the go-ahead to athletics only if the COVID-19 case rates drop below 14 per 100,000 population. “You can play the red and orange tier sports in the purple tier as long as your adjusted case rates drop below 14 per 100,000,” said Holaday, who has been busy finding teams to play.

“We’re doing all outdoor sports except volleyball and water polo. You can resume high to moderate sports,” added Holaday.

According to state health officials, COVID-19 cases are far below last year’s peak. The death toll is falling, too, as are hospitalizations. The immediate future appears bright as more vaccines arrive in the Golden State. Currently, 18.3 percent of the population has had at least one dose.

There won’t be any league champions. Visalia Unified may not bring football back.

Several other sports teams are slated to hit the fields or courts this spring, including baseball and softball. Baseball has a full schedule. The team’s first game is today, March 23, against Hanford West at 4:15 p.m.

The MaxPreps website, which lists all high school sporting events, is up to date.

The first softball game is also today,  March 23, at home against Tulare Union.” The game time is 4:30 p.m.

So far, the only local teams to actively compete are cross country, golf, soccer, and swimming.  The school’s cheerleading squads are also up and running.

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