Johnny DeRing has been looking forward to his second season as Whitehall-Yearling baseball coach. He just doesn't know when the first pitch will be thrown.

The Rams return several players from last year's team, which finished 3-16, and DeRing said they had a strong offseason.

However, all spring sports have been delayed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the closing of Ohio schools.

"If we're able to get back to school quick enough, they might let us play at least half a season," DeRing said. "First, you think about the seniors. This is their senior season. You really hope that they get some taste of a senior season.

"We've had a very good core group of guys since the first week of September. They've been there for conditioning and to hit in the cage during the offseason. You hate to see it get folded in like this and I think the powers to be understand that, too. The last thing they want to do is take the season away from them."

An initial three-week closing of schools ends Friday, April 3. The OHSAA instituted a no-contact period during that time, although teammates can communicate and coaches are allowed to send their players suggested workouts. The earliest spring sports could begin under the initial ruling is April 11, following a five-day acclimation period.

Update: Gov. Mike DeWine announced March 30 that schools will remain closed through May 1.

Senior Corey Snider doesn't expect to play baseball in college, so he was hoping to have a memorable season.

"I'm just going on with each day, staying up with school and trying to make sure I'm ready in case we go back," he said. "I'm really excited for the season and I'm hoping it isn't taken all away. As of right now, they're saying we're going back, so I'm keeping my hopes up and staying excited for it."

Snider said DeRing has been a positive leader.

"Throughout the practices and conditioning leading up to the season, I was actually really excited about the team," Snider said. "Coach DeRing had us looking good and then all this happened, and we ended up having to go home."

Because of social distancing, Snider has attempted to remain ready by conditioning and doing drills on his own.

"The guys have been in contact with me," DeRing said. "They're trying to do stuff on their own to stay in shape. I'm telling them to keep their nose to the (grindstone). The worst thing you can do is not do anything. Find a buddy to play catch with. ... We have to hit the ground running when we get back."

Also in her second season, softball coach Kirsten Turner is disappointed by the delay.

"It honestly breaks my heart as a coach not to be playing our first game (last) week," said Turner, whose team went 4-15 last season. "We are missing out on witnessing the growth of our players and some of the final moments with our seniors. Every athlete dreams of their senior year and nobody knew that the 2020 seniors would be ending their high school career this way.

"The group of seniors have worked long and hard through blood, sweat and tears to get the starting position that they hold on the field, but also to get to walk across the stage (for graduation) with their families and friends cheering them on. The thought that they may not get to touch the field or the stage is devastating for them and also myself."

Athletics director Bill Hughett has attempted to remain upbeat and has stayed in contact with his coaches.

"We are giving our athletes individual workouts through Google classroom and encouraging them to get outside and enjoy the nice weather whenever possible," he said.

Will McKinney, who has coached the Africentric girls basketball team to eight state titles, was about to begin his eighth season as the Nubians' boys tennis coach.

Several of his players also play on the boys basketball team at the school.

"Most of them are my (physical education) students," McKinney said. "I've just told them to be safe, enjoy the outdoor life ... do some sit-ups and pull-ups and be active. Stay positive (and) don't let this stuff overwhelm you too much."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank