Liberty Lady Flames Softball Team continues to rely on each other through adversity
The ASUN conference suspended all athletic competitions earlier this month and, with college students all over the country sent home, all of Liberty’s athletics programs have been shut down for the remainder of the semester. This includes the softball team.
Even though the season has been canceled for the Liberty Flames softball team due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, outfielder Madison Via and Head Coach Dot Richardson keep a positive mindset.
Via is a right fielder on the team and has had an extremely successful career as a Lady Flame. In 2017, she became just the second Liberty softball player to be selected as an all-conference first-team player as a freshman. She had a .323 batting average during the 2019 season.
Richardson, a two-time United States Olympic champion, said Via is one of the best athletes, not only in the conference, but in the nation.
“She has the size, the strength, the speed. She has a gun for an arm,” Richardson said.
Richardson also spoke about how Via is a fantastic leader on the team.
“She’s a silent leader, a quiet leader,” Richardson said. “She’s a steady player. If she continues to improve, our team will be so much stronger because of it.”
Via said that she has loved her time as a LadyFlame and that she has enjoyed all of the friendships that she has been able to make. She added that since she is from Roanoke, her family is able to attend all of her games.
However, this season was abruptly cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic. The team was less than halfway through the season when they received the news that they could not finish their season because of the severity of the coronavirus. Richardson provided insight into how this affected the team.
“We went through a period of shock, dismay, confusion, and then the realization that this is really happening and it’s something to take seriously,” Richardson said. “So, all these things happened so quickly, and that’s the depressing side of, wow, we were just coming to where we’re at and the season’s cancelled.”
However, even with the tragedy of a short season, the team is trying to see the bright side. Richardson spoke about how the team will get through their disappointment through faith.
“As Christians, you realize, God is in control. He’s got a plan, and everything is going to be fine and we need to come together, not just as a team but as a nation,” Richardson said. “It’s great to see that happening – It’s pretty inspiring to see how our nation has come together.”
Richardson also cited 1 John 4:4, which speaks about how God is greater than anything that can bring harm in this world. She also noted that this time may serve as an instrument through which people will turn to God.
Via said how this has allowed her to change her perspective, using the time that was devoted to softball to deepen her relationship with Christ.
“I just find myself getting more into the word, reading (God’s) word, seeing what he’s working in all of this,” Via said.
Via also plans to continue working out and practicing in spite of the cancelation. She noted how the lack of softball games has allowed her to have a new appreciation for the sport.“Normally we have very strenuous schedules so I can find myself getting stuck in a rut and taking it for granted at times.” Via said. “I definitely appreciate how busy I was and the chances I had to play.”
Both Richardson and Via said that it is necessary to move on with life and make the most of this situation. This team is dedicated and will continue to work to grow stronger in spite of the setbacks. They are looking forward to next year.
“I really just want to enjoy the time I have,” Via said.
Shields is a sports reporter.