It was originally heartbreaking but if me not playing the rest of the season can help lessen the spread of the virus, it will be OK. It will be worth it.Flames pitcher Kastin Belogorska
Former South Effingham softball star Kastin Belogorska was in the middle of her freshman year at Liberty University when the NCAA suspended all athletic competition for rest of the season because of the coronavirus.
Belogorska, a standout pitcher, was told at one point that the Flames wouldn’t be able to compete again until April 5. Eventually, however, the team was informed that its season was over at 10-13.
“It was kind of heartbreaking at first to hear,” Belogorska said. “We spent so much time in the offseason practicing. It was originally heartbreaking but if me not playing the rest of the season can help lessen the spread of the virus, it will be OK. It will be worth it.”
Belogorska said she misses the day-to-day requirements of her sport.
“Practices were always really hard,” she said. “At times, I would be so tired. (But) to get a break at a time when you weren’t expecting it — you really take it for granted sometimes the hours practicing and going through conditioning and weights. I really do miss it.”
Despite the abbreviated campaign, the former Lady Mustang made plenty of memories that include a 4-2 win over Ole Miss, picking up her first victory and competing against Team USA.
The Flames started their season in the Sunshine State in the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic before competing in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, giving Belogorska a chance to compete against some of the best programs in all of college softball, including Auburn and 2019 national champion UCLA.
“We went to Florida for two weeks and we played the best of the best,” Belogorska said. “We played Ole Miss, UCLA, Florida State, Washington and Auburn. That was really cool.
“We had two weeks in Florida away from the cold so that was nice. We held our own and that was cool to see. I did get to pitch against Mississippi State for half the game and I had a pretty good outing, and that was really exciting.”
Belogorska picked up her first collegiate win against New Mexico on March 7.
“That made me feel like all my hard work was paying off,” Belogorska said.
One of the biggest highlights of her season was getting to pitch against Team USA. The exhibition game took place Feb. 12 in Clearwater, Fla. It was there that Belogorska had a chance to compete against one of her favorite players.
“I did get to pitch and it was kind of cool to see,” Belogorska said. “I was literally pitching against people I grew up wanting to be like. Keilani Ricketts — I remember watching her when I was young and I (remember thinking), ‘I wish I could be like her one day,’ and I got to pitch to her. I just remember standing on the mound and all the memories started flooding back. I never thought that would happen.”
As she awaits the chance to reunite with her teammates and coaches, Belogorska reflects on the fun times she had with her squad.
“I remember the relationships I formed over the season,” she said. “We bonded as a team. We always made a way to have fun, whether it be in the airports or the bus rides.”