Even after recording back-to-back sweeps at home and finishing with a seven-game win streak, the loss of the rest of Missouri baseball’s 2020 season due to the coronavirus outbreak hit home for many Tigers fans, coaches and players.
“I just hate it for the entire athletic world,” Missouri baseball sophomore Trae Robertson said. “It’s so hard on everybody to accept what’s going on, but we all just have to realize that this is bigger than us and we have to take care of this together no matter how unfortunate it is.”
Though the cancellation was disappointing for all those involved with the team, a recent decision made by the NCAA Division I Council has added a bit of hope back into the Tigers’ hearts.
The NCAA announced Monday that an extra year of eligibility will be granted to spring athletes whose seasons were shortened by the outbreak regardless of their year in school, though financial aid to returning seniors is not guaranteed.
“I love the idea of the eligibility,” Missouri baseball junior Ian Bedell said. “I don’t like the decision on placing the scholarship problem on each individual school however; I wish there would have been some aid to help the schools, but I am very happy that these seniors will be able to come back.”
Missouri baseball has five seniors that will be eligible to return to Taylor Stadium for their final season: pitcher Art Joven, shortstop Austin James, pitcher Lukas Veinbergs, designated hitter Peter Zimmermann and pitcher Spencer Jeurgens.
While none of the seniors have announced their plans for next season yet, Zimmermann was beyond happy to hear the news about the NCAA’s decision.
“Getting an opportunity to come back and finish what we started is something I believe all the seniors wanted,” Zimmermann said. “We’ve put in so much work throughout our careers and if it were to end because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that would’ve left all the seniors with such an empty feeling. But getting a chance to finish our collegiate careers is the right thing; the NCAA really did the right thing.”
Robertson, a Columbia native, was equally as thrilled with the announcement.
“It just means another opportunity to play baseball in my hometown with a great staff of coaches and teammates,” Robertson said.