ALUMNI NOTEBOOK: Local alumni have season cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic | TheUnion.com

ALUMNI NOTEBOOK: Local alumni have season cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic

Nerissa Eason, a 2016 Bear River graduate, is making her way through her freshmen season as a pitcher for the Oregon State softball team. For the season, Eason has a 9-11 record overall with six complete games, four shutouts, 70 strikeouts, two saves and a 4.09 ERA.
Photo courtesy of Dave Nishitani / Oregon State Athletics |

Several local alumni who compete at the collegiate level played their final games of the season last week.

It was an abrupt end to what was just the beginning of the spring season.

College sports across the nation have come to a grinding halt with widespread league and conference cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pac-12 conference announced Saturday it has canceled all of its spring sport competitions.

“At a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group and Athletic Directors earlier today, the Pac-12 made the decision to cancel all Pac-12 conference and non-conference sport competitions and Pac-12 championships through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year,” the Pac-12 said in a statement Saturday. “This decision follows both the Pac-12’s earlier decision to suspend all sports until further notice, and the decision by the NCAA to cancel the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 NCAA basketball tournaments as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. In addition, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to prohibit all organized team athletically-related activities until at least March 29, at which time it will revisit this decision.”

The announcement put an end to 2016 Bear River grad Nerissa Eason’s senior season with the Oregon State softball team and Matt Lopez’s (Bear River, 2016) junior season with the Washington State baseball team.

Eason, a relief pitcher for the Beavers, had appeared in two games, tossed four innings, allowed one earned run and struck out three this season.

During her career at Oregon State, Eason has appeared in 33 games with 19 starts. She was 9-13 overall with two saves. She pitched a total of 121.1 innings, allowed 67 earned runs and struck out 76.

Oregon State’s softball team was 17-9 overall when the season was cancelled.

While at Bear River, Eason dominated from the circle during her four-year varsity career. She was 70-21 overall with a 0.86 ERA and 1,002 strikeouts. During her senior year, she went 22-1 and boasted a 0.55 ERA. Eason also batted .482 and had nine home runs her senior year. She was named the Pioneer Valley League MVP three years in a row.

Lopez is just starting his career at Washington State after a stellar runs at Bear River and Sierra College.

After being a three-year varsity player and two-time All-PVL First Team selection for the Bruins, Lopez went to Sierra College where he was a two-time All-Big-8 Conference First Team selection and an All-NorCal selection after his sophomore season in which he batted .391 with 70 hits, 14 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 53 RBIs in 42 games.

Lopez, an infielder, has appeared in two games for the Cougars (9-7) this season.

The NCAA Division I Council Committee has recommended that eligibility relief be provided to all student-athletes who participate in spring sports.

“Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time,” the NCAA said Friday in a statement. “Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and week.”

Andrew Schnitzius, a 2016 Nevada Union graduate, and the rest of the Lyon College baseball team hung up their cleats Friday after the American Midwest Conference Council of Presidents voted unanimously Friday morning to cancel all remaining intercollegiate activities including Conference championships for the 2020 spring season.

Lyon is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member. Like NCAA athletes, NAIA athletes are not being charged a season of eligibility.

“In an effort to provide relief, no spring sport student-athlete will be charged a season of competition,” the NAIA said in a statement on its website. “Any spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled full-time in 2020 will be awarded two additional semester terms of attendance or the equivalent.”

Schnitzius, a senior catcher at Lyon, is coming off a strong junior season in which he started 21 games, batted .315 and tallied 28 RBIs. He had started six games and played in nine this year before the season was cancelled.

The Scots had jumped out to a 20-6 overall record and were ranked No. 22 in the NAIA at the time of the season termination.

During Schnitzius’ time at NU, he was a standout in both football and baseball, earning all-league honors in both sports.

Junior college student-athletes like Luke Cornish (Nevada Union grad, 2018) and Cody Rueckert (Nevada Union grad, 2018) are also on hiatus after the California Community College Athletic Association announced that competition and practices for spring sports have been suspended indefinitely.

Cornish, a sophomore catcher, had played in 14 games for Yuba, batting .196 with five RBIs. Rueckert, a sophomore relief pitcher, appeared in nine games and tossed 12.1 innings before the season was called.

Like the NCAA and NAIA, the CCCAA is working to address eligibility issues for its student-athletes.

According to a statement by the CCCAA, student-athlete eligibility will be determined at a later time, but it is a central question facing the association.

“We will be working with the NCAA, NAIA and other governing bodies to determine the next steps while also taking internal steps to answer the many questions student-athletes, parents, coaches and others have and will have,” the statement said. “We will disseminate information and answers through the conferences and institutions as they become available.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com or call 530-477-4232.


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