At 4:11 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, Arkansas Tech University reliever Zack Strickland checked with catcher Chance Roberts for his sign and delivered the pitch to Christian Brothers University hitter Garett Reason-Kerkho.
Reason-Kerkho sent a fly ball into the outfield at Nadicksbernd Field in Memphis, Tenn. ATU center fielder Elijah Boyer caught it for the final out in a 15-1 Wonder Boys’ victory.
It would have been impossible to imagine when Boyer squeezed that baseball in his glove it would be the final play made by an Arkansas Tech student-athlete for 297 days.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wiped out the remainder of the spring 2020 season for the Wonder Boys baseball and golf teams as well as the Golden Suns softball, golf and tennis teams. Arkansas Tech’s 2020 football season was canceled. The volleyball and cross country seasons scheduled for fall 2020 were shortened and moved to the spring semester. The fall portions of the ATU basketball schedules were eliminated and a new slate of games was drafted for January and February 2021.
And yet, the Wonder Boys’ and Golden Suns’ work in preparation to compete continued. As did their work in the classroom and in community service.
That persistence will finally begin to be rewarded at 2 p.m. today when Arkansas Tech athletics returns to action following its longest period without competition since World War II.
The Wonder Boys basketball team will host the University of the Ozarks at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. No fans will be allowed per Great American Conference return to play protocols, but live coverage will be available from KCJC 102.3 FM, the KCJC app and www.arkansastechsports.com.
The Golden Suns basketball team will make its debut at 2 p.m. Saturday against Champion Baptist College.
Other Arkansas Tech teams — Golden Suns cross country (Jan. 15), Golden Suns volleyball (Jan. 26), Wonder Boys golf (Feb. 8-9), Golden Suns golf (Feb. 8-9), Wonder Boys baseball (date TBA), Golden Suns softball (date TBA) and Golden Suns tennis (date TBA) — will celebrate their return to competition in the weeks to come, all with COVID-19 safety procedures in place.
After 297 days, the Wonder Boys and the Golden Suns are back. That’s reason to celebrate on this New Year’s Day for those who love Arkansas Tech. Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.