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Special season cut short for Kuerzi

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

They were riding high.

The Georgia Southwestern University softball team beat Shorter 2-1 on March 10 for its 10th consecutive win, and the players were looking forward to the start of conference play that weekend.

In a scene that took place on campuses across the country, though, the players and coaches soon found out that their season wouldn’t continue because of the threat of the coronavirus.

A season that held such promise for Georgia Southwestern was over.

In the wake of that decision there were some heart-broken players, including a junior first baseman who graduated from LaGrange High.

Lauren Kuerzi was having an outstanding season for Georgia Southwestern, and she was among the team leaders in a number of categories.

Like everyone else on the team, though, Kuerzi’s season is over.

“The point when they told us, nobody could really say anything,” Kuerzi said. “It was all tears, and hugging, and a lot of emotions. We were on a 10-game winning streak. We were undefeated at home. We were supposed to start conference. We were mentally prepared for the season.”

Georgia Southwestern (17-5) dropped three straight games in February, but it went on a 10-game winning streak beginning with a victory over Point University on Feb. 22.

Had the season continued, Georgia Southwestern would have started conference play at Georgia College on March 13.

“Last year we went into the conference (tournament) as a seven seed, and we ended up losing in the championship,” Kuerzi said. “It was great strides for our program, and we were really looking forward to this season. And then it was a big disappointment, mainly for the seniors and juniors.”

Kuerzi arrived at Georgia Southwestern following an exceptional high-school career at LaGrange.

At Georgia Southwestern, Kuerzi stepped into the lineup as a starting shortstop as a freshman, and she hit .265 with four home runs and 32 RBIs while walking 15 times and scoring 24 runs.

Kuerzi had a .256 batting average as a sophomore with two home runs and 14 RBIs.

Kuerzi’s junior was shaping up to be her best.

In 20 games, Kuerzi was hitting .286 with three home runs, two doubles and 15 RBIs, and she’d scored 10 runs. Perhaps most impressively, Kuerzi had zero strikeouts in 49 at-bats.

In the field, Kuerzi has settled in at first base, and she has worked hard to master that position.

“I picked up first base, and that’s been my spot ever since,” Kuerzi said. “Last year, I worked extremely hard at first. I’d show up before practice with my coach, and I’d work after practice.”

Kuerzi has enjoyed being a part of the Georgia Southwestern softball family, and she said “it’s kind of like a hometown team. You know everybody, and everybody has your back. Our coaches are great, and our program has really stepped up.”

That only makes the decision to cancel the season that much more painful, but Kuerzi said she and her teammates have been encouraged to be grateful for the time they have together.

“Before every practice, we have a team meeting, and sometimes it’s an hour, and sometimes five minutes,” Kuerzi said. “Our coach has continued to stay, be happy you’re out here, and we are.”