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Carroll County Athletic League spring season on hold with schools set to close

The sports landscape is changing hourly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and Carroll County’s upcoming varsity spring season took its first hit Thursday.

The first day of play for spring sports was set for March 20, but with Maryland public schools being closed from March 16-27, as mandated Thursday afternoon by State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon during a news conference with Gov. Larry Hogan, that start date is being pushed back.

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“In all of our decisions, safety is our No. 1 priority. This falls well in line with that,” said Michael Duffy, Carroll County’s supervisor of athletics, a few hours before the state leaders’ news conference. “Athletics is a wonderful opportunity for people, but at the same point we are certainly not the engine that’s driving this. We’re very aware of where we fit in, in the big scheme of things. We want to make sure that whatever we’re going is within the guidelines of [what] the health department gives us so that if we’re able to move forward it’s in the safest way possible.”

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association on Wednesday announced its boys and girls state basketball tournaments would be played without spectators or members of the media, a move that garnered its share of social media backlash. A little less than 24 hours later, the plan changed — the state tourneys, which were set to begin Thursday, were postponed altogether.

The plans are in line with what has been taking place across the country in the last few days, from professional sports suspending the remainder of their seasons to the NCAA wiping out its annual men’s and women’s college basketball postseason tournaments. Winter and spring championships were also cancelled across the NCAA.

McDaniel College announced Thursday the suspension of all athletics from March 16-April 5, with spring break trips being cancelled. And the Centennial Conference, of which McDaniel is a member, posted a statement on its website announcing all spring sports are suspended effective March 16 until further notice.

McDaniel’s men’s lacrosse team has a home game March 14 against St. Mary’s at 2 p.m., and the Green Terror women travel to Bridgewater on the same day at 1. The Terror baseball team has a doubleheader at Marymount on March 14, but won’t be making the following eight-game trip to Winter Haven, Florida. McDaniel softball’s 10-game trip to Clermont, Florida, is also off.

The Northeast Conference suspended all sports through at least March 29, according to a post on the league’s website. That means no sports at Mount St. Mary’s, where the women’s lacrosse team was off to its best start in program history. The NEC also canceled the remainder of its women’s basketball tournament — the Mountaineers were set to host a semifinal Thursday night, looking to get back to a tourney final for the first time since 2001.

The first day of practice for spring high school sports was Feb. 29, with baseball, softball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys and girls tennis, and boys and girls track teams getting their first chance to venture outdoors. Schools being closed for the next two weeks means a new start date of March 30 at the earliest, but that could be an unlikely timetable given the lack of practice time to that point.

“[Wednesday] it looked like everything was starting to move forward, and then NCAA and then the Ivy League ... and then the NBA," Duffy said. “Everything is flying so quickly.”

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