“Heartbreaking.” 

That is the single word Head Coach Heidi Cox used to describe the loss of the 2020 season for her Benton Lady Panthers softball team due to COVID-19.

“It is an unreal experience for several of us in the state of Arkansas who have been around the game of softball for years,” Cox said. “It is the first time that I have not coached or played during the spring. It is definitely unreal.”

Cox said she and her team had a great offseason in preparation for the grueling schedule.

“We had a great chemistry going about us and the kids were working hard. We were returning six sophomores, a junior and two seniors that we were excited to be able to kick off their senior season with,” she said.

Benton opened the short-lived season with three wins and a loss, including three games where it put up double-digit runs.

“The first two games, the bats just came alive,” Cox said. “It was an exciting time that this could be the year that we could surprise some people.”

GRACIE REDMON

Benton sophomore Gracie Redmon takes a cut in a game this past season. The Lady Panthers’ season was cut short due to the coronavirus COVID-19. 

Benton’s only defeat came to Cabot in a 3-1 home loss — a game Cox said she would have loved to play over.

Benton beat Greenbrier in the final game of the season, 11-9, and was set to take on North Little Rock when Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced all schools would be closed for two weeks before eventually shutting down all in-person class time for the rest of the school year.

“We were trying to play all the big guns as soon as we could and see where we stand and what we needed to work on,” Cox said. 

Benton will say goodbye its two seniors, Cayla Clayton and Joanna Vittitow.

“It is sad how the season ended for them and really all the girls for just how hard they worked and now you don’t get to see the process and payoff for all that hard work,” Cox said. “I miss the competitive spirit. It has been a tough battle for all of us - emotionally.”

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