For most of her life, Haley Simonds has had softball to look forward to.
Like many student-athletes across the country, that has been temporarily taken away from her.
Simonds was midway through a senior season at Newberry College in South Carolina where she had just set team and Southern Athletic Conference records for career RBIs when her season came to an abrupt end on March 12 as the conference announced that all spring athletics competition and practice for the current academic year were cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Simonds, a 2016 graduate of Severna Park, has been given the opportunity to return next year as a fifth-year senior, thanks to a decision by the NCAA that gives Division II athletes an extra year of eligibility.
She officially accepted the offer to return to Newberry next year.
“I am blessed to have another opportunity to return to Newberry for another season,” Simonds said. “I’m excited and looking forward to being back on the field with my teammates and coaching staff soon.”
Like many across the country, Simonds was shocked by the decision to cancel the rest of the season.
“At that point in our season, we were really getting it going and we were truly a family,” said Simonds, a career .401 hitter at Newberry. “Getting the season taken away so abruptly was hard, the first few days were so hard to handle. Softball has been a big part of my life the last 15 years.”
In the Wolves’ final game of the season on March 10 against Erskine in the second game of a doubleheader, Simonds singled in a run in the first inning for her 40th RBI in 24 games. The run driven in was her 40th of the year and 200th in her career. She became the all-time leader in RBIs in South Atlantic Conference history and is the first player to reach 200 RBIs at Newberry.
“I really didn’t have any idea there was a record for that,” she said. “We finished the game and shook hands, then an announcement came over the loudspeaker. It was really amazing.”
Simonds finished the season hitting .444 with six home runs, two doubles and 18 runs scored. She also walked 16 times and was hit five more times for an on-base percentage of .570. She’s hitting .401 for her career with 36 home runs, 37 doubles and has scored 84 runs.
She also pitched a complete game in her first career start and has a 3.55 ERA in 51 1/3 innings pitched for her career (27 appearances).
“As a player, it’s like you’ve worked so hard and have done everything asked of you, and despite you doing everything right and following the rules, something out of your control just totally negates that,” she said. “I think that was the pill that was toughest for me to swallow. I have worked for 15 years and didn’t even get to finish that dream.”
A former classmate of Simonds at Severna Park, Claire Domshick was off to a good start in her junior year of lacrosse at the University of Oregon. After scoring 16 goals her first two seasons for the Ducks, the 2017 Severna Park graduate had already scored three goals and added an assist in five games.
She was at the airport getting ready for a road trip to California for games against Stanford and California when she received the bad news.
“We had just won a game, and it was such a good win,” she said. “It was completely taken away from us, and it’s hard to look back and see all the hard work go for nothing. The seniors were very upset.”
After playing in 34 games her first two years, Domshick was looking forward to her junior year. She scored her third goal of the year in a win over Fresno State on March 8 that snapped a five-game losing streak.
“I was hoping to play even more than I did last year,” she said. “I was hoping to keep improving, then this happened. It honestly opened my eyes that no one can take anything for granted.”
Domshick returned to the area and has been working out and preparing for the next academic trimester, which will consist of online classes. She plans on returning to Oregon for her senior year.
“Our last practice, we didn’t know it was our last practice. And our last game, we didn’t know it would be our last game,” she said.
Domshick was a three-sport athlete at Severna Park, lettering in lacrosse, basketball and field hockey. She was named the Severna Park George Roberts Athlete of the Year in 2017 and helped lead her lacrosse and field hockey teams to state titles during her career.