Like a lot of college athletes across the country, Maycie Walton is quietly at home, keeping up with her classes online and eyeing graduation in about a month.

In a normal world before the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on all facets of life, Walton was enjoying her senior season on the LeTourneau University softball team.

The 2016 Conroe High School graduate, however, has played her last collegiate game after the cancellation of all NCAA spring sports.

With her bachelors degree to be completed this semester, it doesn’t make much sense to enroll in classes next spring and play one more season, even if she was granted another year of athletic eligibility.

“It still really hasn’t hit me until people started talking about it,” Walton said in a phone interview Friday morning. “There’s a lot of emotions. Most of the girls on the team have another year to play and it’s just hard because I don’t have another year to play. We worked really hard this season and we were going to be really good.”

It’s already been about a month since Walton last hit the field with her teammates, giving the catcher plenty of time to reflect on the conclusion of her career.

“It was definitely hard,” Walton said. “Our coach told us at practice that the season was ending because of the coronavirus. At first, everybody was just kind of shocked that this is happening. He said that everyone has to go home.”

The Yellowjackets, a Division III program, were in Arizona during the weekend of March 7-8, a few days before the pandemic forced the NCAA to cancel the rest of its spring sports season.

“It wasn’t our best tournament and we didn’t do as well as we expected,” Walton explained. “At the beginning of the tournament, I started as the flex and that last game of the tournament I ended up as the designated player. I had a really good weekend, but we didn’t do well as a team. I finally figured it out and got in a groove and was doing well.”

Walton was 4 for 7 with a run scored during her two games played there. She was approaching the plate for an at-bat in a game against George Fox (Ore.) when a rain shower came through and canceled the rest of that game. The softball team headed home and the world changed within days.

“At first it was frustration,” Walton said of the canceled season. “But I’ve kind of accepted it now. They always say to play every game like it’s your last. I feel like I played to the best of my abilities.”

The Yellowjackets ended the year at 10-7 and didn’t even begin American Southwest Conference contests.

Softball has been a big part of Walton’s life, dating back to her time with Conroe playing for head coach Jackie Dixon.

Walton turned her time with the Lady Tigers into a successful four seasons of college softball where she played for two years at Temple Junior College, including as a member of the 2018 NJCAA JUCO World Series champions.

In Walton’s freshman year, the Leopards had a talented roster, but finished second in conference play and didn’t go as far as what they were capable of in the postseason.

In her sophomore year, Walton played in 26 games with a .258 batting average and six RBIs and the Leopards as a program reached the top of junior college softball.

“We won conference, regionals and ended up going to Utah and winning nationals,” Walton said. “From Coach (Kristen) Zaleski at Temple, I learned a lot. She definitely challenged me to become a player that I didn’t know I could be. Seeing her coach has inspired me to coach because she’s such a great coach.”

From Temple, Walton was recruited by LeTourneau’s assistant coach and was excited at the opportunity to continue her career in-state.

“I wasn’t ready to give it up,” Walton said. “I wanted to continue playing. LeTourneau is really based on your faith. It’s a private christian university and I went and toured the campus and I just felt like God called me to go there.”

Although she is graduating with a criminal justice degree from LeTourneau, Walton said she plans to get alternate certification in education and become a teacher and coach someday. Her ultimate goal is to return to Conroe and coach alongside Dixon.

“Coach Dixon and I were really close as well as Coach (Kendall) Hineman and I,” Walton said. “Being a part of the program at Conroe when Coach Dixon first got there, it wasn’t the best. She came in with a positive attitude and did the best that she could. I would love to go and become an assistant coach and rebuild the program with her. I think I’ve learned a lot with my college experience that I can bring to Conroe and just make the program even better.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Coming next week, a story on Walton’s Conroe and LeTourneau teammate, Madelyn Tannery.

rtate@hcnonline.com

Original Article from: https://www.yourconroenews.com/neighborhood/moco/sports/article/SOFTBALL-Pandemic-ends-Conroe-grad-Walton-s-15177596.php