Having lost her senior season with the Hilliard Darby softball team because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Lily Garnett-Brown is doing her best to stay positive.
The second baseman has found solace in the fact that her playing career isn't over.
"I'm one of the fortunate people that gets to continue playing softball for the next four years," said Garnett-Brown, a College of Central Florida recruit. "I'm really sad for my fellow teammates who no longer get to play softball, and sad about everyone this season. There was a lot of hard work put into this season, and it's sad that the whole season was canceled."
Garnett-Brown was coming off a junior season in which she batted .375 with 10 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 26 RBI and 23 runs scored and was named second-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division. She was looking to make even more of an impact this season for the Panthers, who finished 14-14 overall last year, including 10-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to place second behind Delaware (14-0).
"Lily is the ultimate team player," coach Shawn Papp said. "She is a four-year letterwinner. She has a natural swing that the ball flies off her bat. (She's) a special young lady."
Garnett-Brown said she has dedicated a lot of time in recent years to working on her hitting, and it showed the past two seasons. As a sophomore, she batted .333 with 26 RBI and 18 runs and was special mention all-league.
"I've worked pretty hard," she said. "... A lot of my life has been dedicated to softball, so I feel like I put in quite a lot of work to become who I am today and the player that I am today and the hitter that I am today."
And yet, Garnett-Brown isn't satisfied. She continues to work on her hitting, as well as other aspects of her game, in preparation for her collegiate career.
"I want to improve on all aspects of my game: hitting, fielding and my mental game could always be stronger," she said. "I want to work as hard as I can on everything to become a well-rounded player and better in all aspects. But if I had to say one thing, I would say hitting, because that's a very important part of the game and I could get better than that."
Garnett-Brown hopes to spend her summer playing with the Firecrackers OH travel team as she gets ready to play for Central Florida, which was 30-1 and ranked first in the National Junior College Athletic Association's national poll when the NCAA suspended all sports March 12 because of the pandemic.
"I just received my workout plan from my college coach," Garnett-Brown said. "It kind of sucks the gyms aren't enough, so I don't have anywhere to lift (weights), per se, so I've been doing circuit stuff and running in my neighborhood."
Garnett-Brown, who intends to study marketing and advertising, plans to spend two years at Central Florida before transferring to a four-year college in Florida, preferably Florida Gulf Coast or Florida Atlantic.
But her softball aspirations don't end after that.
"My hope would be maybe playing overseas somewhere for a professional team, even if it's only for a year or two," Garnett-Brown said. "I want to be a softball coach when I'm older, too. ... That would be my dream with softball."