For many of the players, they should have been beginning their high school careers this past Spring.

Instead, girls on the 16u BC Pride team are returning to the softball field for travel ball.

“It feels good to be getting back in shape,” Canton’s Keri Wesneski said. “It feels good to be able to be back with the people you enjoy playing your favorite sport.”

Wesneski is one of five Canton players on the team, with Allyson Butcher, Jillaney Hartford, Keri Wesneski, Sara Saar and Emmi Ward. NEB’s Thailey Franklin; Wyalusing’s Sydney Friedlander and London Edwards; Tioga’s Mackenzie Luther; Williamson’s Marissa Poulin and Towanda’s Brea Overpeck are all on the team coached by Tilden Franklin, with R.J. Baker and Lyle Wesneski as assistants.

“I like being active, it’s been fun,” Hartford said of being back on the field. “I lost my freshman year, so it’s exciting to come back up and play as a freshman, even though it’s not school ball.

“It’s a whole different thing being at softball practice and not at home.”

A year ago Ward was an all-state player for Canton as a freshman, and she is happy to be playing games again.

“It’s really fun being on the field and playing with all the players we have played with our whole lives,” Ward said. “It helps you kind of forget what is going on and remember what we loved, and it lets us focus on this.

“It’s nice to see the freshmen coming up and them learning things at a higher stage, and they will be able to use that the next school season.”

For many of the girls just being able to do anything again is special.

“It’s really nice to be able to get out of the house and actually do something after being stuck inside,” Saar said. “It’s good to start getting stuff back.

“It’s good to see my friends again, especially play sports again, because we missed out on the spring season.”

A lot of the girls on the team were freshman this past year, and they lost their first seasons of varsity ball.

“It was very upsetting to see the freshmen this year, because we had a promising team, we worked hard all summer, and then we lost it all within a few days,” Saar said. “It’s upsetting to see them lose their freshman year when they worked so hard.”

Butcher was one of those young players at Canton, along with Wesneski.

“I love bing around my friends and doing the sport I love,” Butcher said. “At least we are young, so we will still get a lot of time to play together the next few years.”

Edwards and Friedlander were ready to play as freshmen for Wyalusing, while Franklin was expected to have a big role for NEB as a freshman.

“It was really hard not being able to have our first year in high school, because it was a good building year,” Edwards said. “I was really upset about not being able to play with the seniors this year, and lose a year with the juniors, because I think our team was going to be really strong this year.

“It is hard, I feel it would have been a good year to warm up to pitching at the high school level, but I’m happy to have next year to have some of the fellow pitchers, so it won’t be just me.”

“I was depressed when I heard we couldn’t play ,because I was prepared for it, I was ready,” Franklin said. “I was looking forward to playing with every senior, because I made a good bond with them.

“It was pretty hard, they were all looking forward to me, and I was looking forward to a good season with them, this was our year.”

“I was really pumped for the season and I hate how it was taken away from us,” Friedlander said.

Things were a bit different for Luther and Poulin, who were ready for their first year at the varsity level. Both are older, they will be seniors next year, so the lost year hit hard.

“It does hit harder, because it’s my last few years before I leave and go to college,” Luther said. “It’s said. “It was really hard. I was looking forward to two years of varsity, and I only get one. But, I hope this season we do good and make the most if it

“I feel like being the oldest, we have to put a leadership role out there, but I feel like with all of us we are going to do really good.”

“I was going to be on varsity this year, so it feels good coming out, it’s going to be my first year playing so it feels nice,” Poulin said of the travel team. “It feels a lot different, it’s going to be a lot different playing with the younger girls.

“It’s going to be hard when I leave, because I’m going into the military and won’t be able to continue my career in softball so it’s a little sad when I leave.”

For all the girls it was hard keeping motivated and getting ready for the season without spring ball.

“You just kind of have to show up with a positive mindset,” Wedneski said. “It’s the sport you love playing. “I didn’t really know at first if this was going to happen, so when it did it was a shock and I didn’t have much time to prepare.”

“I put in some work while we were off, but when we got here you realized you wouldn’t be right where you wanted to be and you just adjusted,” Ward said.

For many players the uncertainty of when they could play sports made it hard for players to stay in shape.

“It was pretty hard the first month of quarantine because we didn’t know how long it was going to be,” Saar said. “Staying motivated at those times was hard.”

“It was very hard to stay motivated and you just kind of lost your drive because you didn’t know when things were going to start up again,” Butcher.

“Once I found out our high school season was canceled I still had high hopes we would have a travel season,” Edwards said.

A lot of the girls still put in a lot of work during the time off.

“I practiced almost every day at home, prepping for the season,” Franklin said. “It’s going to be a good team, we have good defense, good offense, it’s going to be a good year for us.”

“It feels amazing, I didn’t get to play my junior year and I’m going to be a senior, so I only get one year of varsity,” Luther said. “It was very hard to find the motivation, I felt like I laid in bed all day trying to find the motivation.”

“It’s really exciting, because not being able to play is hard,” Poulin. “It’s a lot different being on the field than being at home practicing with your family.”

One of the challenges for many of the girls is being up an age group this year.

“I think it’s going to be a large step up from last year, because girls who play varsity play good, experienced players, all year long,” Edwards said.

“I think having girls like Emmi and Sara and the other sophomores are beneficial to us because they take the job as leaders.”

“It’s going to be a little hard getting back into something I haven’t played in so long,” Friedlander said. “ It’s a lot different because last year we were on 14u so we played younger girls, now we are playing older girls so it’s a bit different.”

For players like Ward she has to take on a bigger role.

“It does kind of put some pressure on your shoulders, you do have some people looking up to you.”