REFUGIO – Jared Kelley figured to be taking the mound in Woodsboro on Tuesday afternoon for his fourth start of the season.
Instead, Kelley and teammate Austin Ochoa were alone at Bobcat Field playing catch and taking cuts in the batting cage.
“I think we were supposed to have some pretty good games coming up,” Kelley said. “Now, knowing that on Tuesdays instead of going out there and playing, you’re just staying home.”
The high school baseball season has been put on hold because of the COVID-19 virus, and the stoppage is especially tough for the Bobcats.
Refugio is ranked No. 1 in state Class 2A poll and was attempting to make its first appearance at the state tournament.
“It’s like…we had so much potential for this team,” Ochoa said. “We expected big things to come and for this virus to come and ruin it basically…hopefully, there’s still a chance to play. We’re just going by ear.”
Kelley and Ochoa had done their part to help the Bobcats live up to expectations.
Kelley had faced 39 batters and struck out 34 of them, while not allowing a hit and issuing three walks in 12 innings. He was hitting .476 with three home runs, one triple, two doubles and 12 RBIs.
Ochoa allowed one hit and had six strikeouts in four scoreless innings in his only pitching appearance. He was hitting .481 with two triples, two doubles and eight RBIs.
Kelley and Ochoa attempt to stay as sharp as possible by working out six days a week, while doing their schoolwork online.
“Every day, we prepare for what’s coming,” Ochoa said. “If they let us play, we’ve got to stay ready and work out and keep our arm in shape and make sure the swing is still going right and just keep on working.”
Kelley is one of the top high school prospects in the nation and has been projected to go in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, which is scheduled for June 10.
The MLB season is delayed and Kelley is aware of speculation that the draft could be canceled.
“I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” said Kelley, who stays in contact with advisor Jeremy Fikac to keep up with developments. “I think it’s just difficult to just cancel a whole…to just miss out. Guys need players so it’s kind of difficult to just cancel something like that.”
Ochoa has signed with UTSA, which had its season canceled and could have some of this year’s seniors returning next season.
“I talked with the head coach,” Ochoa said. “We really didn’t talk much about baseball. We talked about going fishing and stuff like that. I’m not really concerned. You’ve got to compete either way.”
The Bobcats hope to get back on the field this season and do something no other Refugio team has ever done.
“I do not know what the UIL is going to do with us,” said Ochoa, who was the quarterback for Refugio’s state championship football team and the offensive MVP of the state final. “Hopefully, they’ll let us play a few more games. For us seniors, it’s kind of heartbreaking if they cancel the whole season, but you have to do what they say.”
“It’s my senior year and I quit all sports to go out there and play baseball and wanted to worry about baseball,” Kelley said. “Now, the season is here. This is what we waited for all year and it could be canceled. It just sucks.”