ANDERSON — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson University announced Wednesday spring sports are canceled for the remainder of the semester.

“We know this makes a significant impact on student-athletes,” AU athletic director Marcie Taylor said. “There is such a limited time to compete in college. We are particularly heartbroken for our seniors and empathize with our student-athletes and coaches who have worked so hard to prepare for their spring sports season.”

The NCAA announced it will grant D-III spring sport student-athletes an extra year of eligibility.

Joe Moran, a senior baseball player, stayed close to home after graduating from Anderson High School. After winning the conference’s Most Valuable Player award in his junior season, his senior year was taken from him after just nine games.

“I came to AU because honestly everything fell in the right place at the right time for me to be here,” he said. “I wanted to go to a D-I school and play baseball, but I ended up getting hurt my senior year of high school and the schools stopped contacting me. When we got the news in Florida that the season was canceled, it was heartbreaking. My heart hurts because I’ll never get to play the game I love with these seniors ever again.”

Moran has been in contact with several major league scouts. With the cancellation of college sports, his dreams of making it to the next level will become murkier.

“I really don’t know how this will impact the draft and everything,” he said. “I’m assuming the draft is going to get pushed back until later in the summer, so it gives scouts time to watch guys play in summer leagues. I just have to take things one step at a time to get where I want to be.”

AU was in the second year of its men’s and women’s lacrosse programs. The first few years were important for the school to improve and attract recruits to play for all four years.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to just cancel everything right away, rather than delay the games,” said senior lacrosse player Tristan Wilbrandt. “Most of the spring-sport athletes start working early in the fall, so to go through all of that school and extra work just to be told to go home really is irritating. I understand the circumstances, but the bottom line is I don’t think any spring athletes are happy.”

Wilbrandt transferred to Anderson from Indiana University his junior year to be a part of the startup lacrosse program. His last chance to play his sport was taken away from him shortly after it had begun.

The tennis, softball and track and field teams also lost their opportunity to give their seniors their final season. The baseball and softball teams had already traveled to Florida for their spring break trips when they got the news.

“When we learned the season was canceled, it was heartbreaking,” said senior softball player Tara Morey. “Of course we kind of knew it was coming because of all the other schools around us canceling their seasons. However, us seniors were keeping our hopes up. When we got the final call on Wednesday that it was for sure over, my heart broke into pieces realizing I will never get to put an AU uniform on again.”

Of course, every athlete has to end their college career eventually. AU’s softball team found out about the news right after the first game of its season.

“I was really looking forward to just playing,” Morey added. “I had one more year and was ready to give it my all. I knew we had a lot of talent with what I saw at practice. I was just ready to see it at game speed. The one game we played, it was amazing seeing the energy and excitement we had because we finally got to be out there. I was really looking forward to more games like that to end my softball career.”

“At this time the health and safety of our students, coaches, staff, fans and visitors is our priority,” Taylor said of the school’s decision to cancel spring sports. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding during this challenging time.”

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