Ashlynn Tom

Jacksonville High School sophomore Ashlynn Tom pitched a total of 16 innings in three games before the season was suspended due to COVID-19, which also canceled a visit home from her father, U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shaun Tom.

COVID-19’s impact goes beyond the field of play

On March 11, Jacksonville High School sophomore Ashlynn Tom helped lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over Southwest Onslow by pitching a complete game and striking out seven batters.

A day later, athletics across the state were suspended due to COVID-19.

“It’s just breathtaking that all of this could happen in a minute,” Tom said. “You never know when your last game is really going to be. You just have to play your heart out all the time.”

On top of Tom’s season getting cut short, plans for a month-long visit home from her father, a U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 stationed in Hawaii, was put on hold, too.

“Me and my family have really been missing him recently,” Tom said. “It’s been hard not having him here with all of this going on.”

Though the season has stopped, softball is still an outlet for Tom, who is focused on honing her craft and getting stronger for the next time she’ll step onto the field.

“I miss being out with all my friends, the energy on the field and being able to play and not care about what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Tom said.

Though times are hard for now, Tom encourages others to make the best of the situation.

“Think about how you can get better at the sport you are playing or what you can do to get a step ahead,” Tom said. “Don’t just sit around, relax and think this is a vacation, because it is a thing you can utilize to become better.”

The NCHSAA’s latest statement on March 31 left the door open for the possible return of the spring sports season following May 18. The Lady Cards were 1-2 when the season got suspended.