PRCC baseball having to change recruiting

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The baseball team for the Pearl River Community College Wildcats was 12-4 on the season and ranked number three in the nation when the NJCAA made the decision to cancel all spring athletics.

The decision was made in response to the spread of COVID-19 and left the team wondering what it could’ve accomplished if the season had been allowed to play out.

Head Coach Michael Avalon said his players were devastated when the news of the cancelation was made public.

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However, as time progressed the heartbreak lessened as more information came out pertaining to the Coronavirus.

“They understood the severity of the situation after they saw how big of a problem it causes. The other thing that made it easier was that we weren’t the only ones who lost the season, it was (the same) across the country,” Avalon said.

The NJCAA said athletes wouldn’t lose a year of eligibility when they canceled spring sports.

The impact of the NJCAA’s decision will vary from team to team, but Avalon said his roster isn’t likely to be heavily affected by the new eligibility rules.

The roster size may increase slightly, but most of the athletes will likely move on to four-year universities.

“I think you’ll have a few guys who are sophomores who will return, but I don’t think it’ll be a large amount because a lot of baseball players are generally on track to graduate,” Avalon said.

Recruiting was another aspect of college sports affected by the cancellation with the NJCAA saying on and off campus recruiting is prohibited until April 15, at which point the suspension will be reassessed.

Avalon said he and his staff have reached out to their 2020 signees letting them know nothing has changed and their scholarships will be honored.

However, actively recruiting has become more difficult for the Wildcats.

Usually the team would use video to identify a potential signee before then going to see the prospect play in person.

Since that’s not possible at this time the staff will have to find new ways to decide which players will best fit the program.

“I think what we’re having to do is rely on head coaches to give good information on these guys and use video type stuff if there is video of these athletes,” Avalon said.

The Wildcats are only allowed to sign four out-of-state athletes to the roster and those players are normally scouted more heavily late in the spring.

If the cancellation of recruiting is extended then Avalon said it’ll be even harder to determine which out-of-state athletes would best address the needs of the team.

PRCC had some serious momentum after the successful start to this year’s campaign, but will now have to deal with the lost potential of the cancelled season.

Avalon said there is one positive to be taken from the current situation.

Due to athletes not losing a year of eligibility, rosters will be filled to the brim with talent over the next few years as programs combine returning athletes with incoming recruits.

While the sport of college baseball is suffering now, there is hope for future seasons.

“You’ll see talented rosters and baseball may be a little better and be more competitive within the roster. You’re taking a whole class and inserting it into the competition, which can only make the game better,” Avalon said.