Photo courtesy of Tulane athletics
It was March 11, 2020.
The No. 20 Tulane Green Wave baseball team was in the top of the ninth inning against Lamar University with a 6-3 lead. The Wave were looking to wrap up this series and prepare for No. 12 Long Beach State in a weekend series.
Lamar’s Anthony Quirion then hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game. However, it is 2020. Instead of this being the end of the series, it is the end of the season.
While the team won the game, the Green Wave’s 2020 season was lost. While the boys of spring were playing, it was decided that all spring 2020 sports have to come to an end. It was the end of the beginning of a possible run to Omaha.
Waves of Faded Ideas
As in past seasons, Tulane fans were excited about the upcoming season. With the 2019 season ending with a disappointing record of 32-26 and 12-11 in the American Athletic Conference, Wave fans had a nervous energy for the season. When the team swept the first opponent, Florida Gulf Coast, some of the 2019 nervousness started to subside.
The team was living up to fans’ expectations and more. Right-hander Braden Olthoff was emerging as a star on the mound. The standout shined with a 4-0 record, an ERA of 0.32, and 47 strikeouts.
It seemed that the idea of the pitching and hitting clicking at the same time was finally coming to fruition. The team batting average was .303 and rising. The entire lineup, from top to bottom, was getting key hits.
The team was growing together with a 15-2 record before starting conference play. However, that idea quickly and painfully faded.
Pandemic Play: What Could Have Been
Earlier in the year, COVID-19 stormed in without warning. It began to spread to different states and other parts of the world. No one knew at the time that it would be the obstacle that stopped Tulane from punching its ticket to the College World Series.
It wasn’t dead arm pitching. Not slump hitting. It was something much worse that no head coach could manage around.
Wave fans were deep in thought to comprehend of what could have been done. How far would Tulane have made it far? Would Tulane have gone to Clearwater for the AAC Tournament and won the whole thing? How many fans would have been in Omaha in olive and blue, cheering the guys on?
Sadly, we will never know. With Tulane’s opener against Louisiana coming soon, the wonder of what could have been persists. The majority of the 2020 roster is still uptown.
Olthoff will step on the mound again after his third preseason All-American honor. The fans may have a chance to cheer the Green Wave on at Turchin Stadium. They are hoping that the only positive part of the 2020 season carries over into the new year. They still have Omaha outfits to wear.