HIBBING — Anna Elias knew this season was going to be different.
She had watched the Hibbing High School softball program struggle year after year, but last year, the Bluejackets had a breakthrough.
Hibbing lost to Cloquet 2-1 in the section playoffs, then the Lumberjacks proceeded to place third at the state tournament.
That provided some hope as Hibbing prepared for the 2020 season under second-year coach Bryan Terzich.
Elias, who was one of three seniors on the team, knew the Bluejackets could improve on that standing if there was a season.
Unfortunately for Elias and Hibbing, that season got washed out by the pandemic, so the Bluejackets won’t get a chance to see how much they improved this season.
“I was excited,” Elias said. “I thought we had a lot of potential this year. We had a decent season last year, and we only lost a few people. Everybody had been working hard outside of practice, so we were prepared.
“I think we could have done better in the playoffs than we had in the past. We could have won at least one game, if not more.”
Once the order for stay-at-home came, Elias, like most of her teammates and fellow seniors around the area, didn’t think it would be a season-changing problem.
“It wasn’t a super-big deal,” Elias said. “We may have missed a week or two of practice, then maybe we’d start a little bit into the season. I wasn’t worried about it at that point.”
That’s when the team got some discouraging news.
“The Friday after the first week of practice, they said we were going to be done practicing,” Elias said. “They talked about shutting down the season. At that point, I wasn’t sure we’d have any type of season.
“When they first announced that we couldn’t practice, I was hoping for the best.”
Elias was hoping for a partial season.
“Maybe a little shorter than the regular season,” Elias said. “Some mentioned that we’d have to go straight in the playoffs.”
When the reality of not having a season set in, it hit Elias hard.
“I’m upset about it,” Elias said. “It’s my senior season, and I’ve been working all of these years to get to this point. Yeah, I was kind of emotional about it.”
To keep busy, Elias has been doing workouts at home, focusing on hitting off of tees.
She’s also been working at The Stand in Chisholm.
“I’ve been working out softball-wise because I have a net and tee at home,” Elias said. “That’s mostly what I’ve been doing. I miss it a lot, especially since I will never be able to play with those girls again.
“It got ripped away.”
Elias will attend Hibbing Community College next year to finish up her generals. She’ll make some new memories by playing softball, too.
As far as her schooling goes, Elias said she’d rather be in the classroom rather than doing online schooling, but she’s getting by nonetheless.
“School has been fine,” she said. “Everything has gone smoothly, but I would rather be in class because I don’t think I’ve learned as much online. There’s nothing we can do about it.”