Aly Cox has been trying to keep her softball skills crisp for what might lie ahead.
The Bexley junior catcher is longing to play with her travel team this summer after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of her high school season this spring. However, her travel team's season also is in jeopardy of being canceled.
Last spring, Cox shared MSL-Ohio Division Player of Year honors with Worthington Christian pitcher Lilly Heidorn as the Lions finished 10-16 overall and 4-5 in the league to place second behind the Warriors (9-0).
Cox, a three-sport athlete, is eager to get back on the field.
"I keep telling myself that I will play again next season, and I'm doing the extra work now so it will pay off when I do get that chance to play," she said. "There is a lot of extra work that needs to be put in. I have been hitting off a tee. That helps my mechanics, and it helps me to make more contact."
Last year as a sophomore, Cox batted .353 and led the Lions in home runs (4), RBI (20), runs scored (27) and slugging percentage (.588). She also had nine stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage.
"When I go up to the plate, I tell myself not to swing as hard as I can, but instead just try to make contact," she said. "It's important for me, because if I get a hit, it will have an impact on the game. I can get in my own head a lot, and I have to tell myself I can get a hit when I'm up there."
Coach Jess Sciacca said Cox's love of the game is on display in every game and practice.
"I think Aly enjoys it, and you can see that in her dedication," Sciacca said. "She's one of the ones who strives to be a leader. When you enjoy something, it shows and you work hard at it. She's not really a verbal leader, but she does things by example."
Sciacca said Cox is far from a one-dimensional player. She also handles her position well, stopping balls in the dirt and working well with junior pitcher Claire Melville.
"Aly has a good arm and has a good sense of the game," Sciacca said. "She's a brick wall behind plate, and she works well with Claire.
"At the plate, she sees the ball well and has a strong swing. I think it definitely helps her being a catcher when she's in the batter's box. You know what a curveball is going to do and that helps you know how to hit it. Also, it helps in knowing how the umpire is calling balls and strikes that particular day."
Cox plays travel softball with the Canal Crush, where she sees time behind the plate and at third base.
"I like catching, but playing in the field is completely different than what I'm used to," she said. "In the field, you make the play depending on your instincts.
"As a catcher, I like that I'm involved on every single play and being able to make an impact. It's not like that at third."
Cox plays soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter, having earned honorable mention all-league honors in both this school year. She has yet to decide which sport she will play in college, but softball has a special place in her heart.
"Softball has always been my favorite sport and I'm leaning toward playing that in college," she said. "We're trying to figure that out. It's difficult because I'm not able to get the exposure that I normally would have."
The cancellation of the spring sports season and the disruption of workouts have provided Cox with an important life lesson.
"We can't take sports for granted because they can be taken away so easily," she said. "Coach (Sciacca) has taught us things might not go our way, but we have to stay positive, try to make the most of things and continue to work hard. The more work you put in, the more you'll have positive outcomes."