WILMINGTON — After UNCW’s scheduled baseball opponent for this weekend was forced to cancel a series for Covid-19 reasons, UNCW coaches and officials made quick work of finding a new contest.
The Seahawks flew to Stillwater, O.K., to face the Oklahoma St. Cowboys in a three-game series, in lieu of the canceled conference action that James Madison University had planned to host.
UNCW baseball coach Randy Hood said James Madison University — a fellow member of the Colonial Athletic Association — gave him a heads up Monday that a positive Covid-19 test emerged within the team.
With the schedule potentially in jeopardy, Hood said he sought out the email chain used by NCAA head coaches looking to organize last-minute matchups. He noticed Oklahoma State had a similar hole in its schedule after Central Arkansas had to cancel for Covid-19 reasons.
Hood texted with his counterpart at #14-ranked Oklahoma State, head coach Josh Holliday.
“‘Look, we might be open by tomorrow, but if there’s any way we can make something work, we want to play,’” Hood recalled telling Holliday.
On Tuesday morning, James Madison had to officially pull out of the series, and UNCW announced its baseball team was “looking for an opponent to play this weekend.”
“The game was canceled due to COVID testing protocols,” a James Madison spokesperson wrote in an email. “Positive test results combined with contact tracing and the corresponding quarantine period did not leave us with enough student-athletes to compete.”
Throughout Tuesday morning and afternoon, baseball coaches and other Seahawk officials scrambled to hammer down logistics for a potential reroute.
“When we got that information,” Hood said, regarding the cancellation, “I got back here with coach Holliday at Oklahoma State and said, ‘Look, I’ve talked with our people and obviously it’s a big expense from us, so we’re going to need some help from you guys, if possible.’”
Holliday said he wanted to make it work too.
“We just hustled, both sides hustled,” he said. “When they reached out, we had a common need, which was to play baseball this weekend.”
Hood and his crew in Wilmington found a Southwest flight that could accommodate all 36 program members.
“Ten minutes later they sent a contract over,” Hood said.
The agreement between UNCW and Oklahoma State guarantees $21,000 in compensation for the Seahawk program, and 50 complimentary tickets.
UNCW lost the first two games of the Oklahoma State series in a Saturday doubleheader. The third and final game of the series will be at 3 p.m. EST Sunday.
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