Jets temporarily grounded

NOC Enid's Gage Ninness connects hits a single against DMAC Saturday, February 29, 2020 at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets baseball coach Scott Mansfield was relieved to receive news that the NJCAA had decided Friday to suspend athletic competition. It was better than the other option.

"It was a weight off our shoulders," Mansfield said Friday. "It was good news in that the season has been delayed and not cancelled."

Well, at least for now.

The NJCAA, in an official release, said it was suspending all competition March 14 through April 3 out of a concern over potential spread of the coronavirus. The NJCAA Board of Regents will meet again April 3 when it will receive an update from the organization's national office and said "should conditions improve regions and individual colleges will be allowed to resume regular season competition." Schools will be allowed to practice during this time.

Northern Oklahoma College Athletic Director Jeremy Hise said he supports the decision.

"It's a positive thing that gives us an opportunity for evaluation and allows us to see how it plays out and not cancel the season," Hise said Friday.

Hise said college presidents in Region 2 visited with Region 2 Director Michael St. John and provided their input and thoughts prior to the decision being rendered.

"We're hopeful to resume (after April 3)," Hise said. He said he was not aware of any players or other team personnel having been diagnosed with the coronavirus to this point.

Mansfield, like Hise, said he was not surprised by the NJCAA taking such action.

"We saw the writing on the wall with spring sports being halted by the NCAA," Mansfield said. "We certainly had that in the back of our minds, we're just glad that we will have the opportunity to continue."

Hise said the team is currently on spring break, but will return March 22.

"They will have the entire week to enjoy some family time and when they come back we will resume practices as usual," he said. "We are going to have to do some mock study halls and mock classes as they are going to be the only ones on campus."

Earlier this week NOC announced that in the first two weeks following spring break all classes will be conducted online.

If all goes as hoped, the Jets will resume their season on the road April 4-5 for a four-game series against National Park College with their first home game April 7 against Butler (Kan.).

The suspension of games wiped out a pair of home-and-home series against Murray State and Carl Albert State as well as road games at Butler and Pratt (Kan.)

The defending NJCAA Division II World Series champion Jets (8-10) are coming off a 13-12 win over North Iowa on Tuesday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark that Hise hopes can serve as a springboard for the rest of the season.

"We're starting to find out where we're at as a team," Hise said. "That last game (against North Iowa) was a back-and-forth affair, we took a lead, gave up a lead and found a way to win. From where we started to where we're at, we're continuing to grow and hopefully grow all the way to the playoffs."

Hise said Jets players are understanding of the situation regarding temporarily suspending the season.

"They are always told they need to be comfortable being uncomfortable and roll with the punches," Hise said.

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

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