March 25, 2020

UPPER KEYS — A diamond season cut down at the plate by the coronavirus threat cost Coral Shores High School’s baseball and softball squads a shot at league titles.

“Both these teams certainly were in a position to compete for championships, the boys in District [16-3A] baseball and the girls for their second straight South Florida Conference title,” Coral Shores Athletic Director Rich Russell said.

As significantly, the sudden end to spring games unsettled athletes who were in the middle of the college recruiting period.

“We’ve got three pitchers — Dillon Walters, Max Lindsey and Jason Filpes — who all have a chance to move on” to college baseball, Russell said.

Before the coronavirus alert spread, Walters was recruited and signed by Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

Lindsey and Filpes were packing their bags for a recruiting trip to Beaufort College in South Carolina when they got word that COVID-19 closed the campus.

“That was the weekend everybody started freaking out,” Lindsey said. “The trip got canceled and [the coaches] aren’t allowed to do any recruiting.”

Lindsey said panic was his initial reaction.

“It all happened really quickly. It’s late in my senior year so I was unsure of the next steps,” he said. “We’re in the middle of the season, which is when players get filmed for some exposure. If that gets cut off, where am I supposed to go? Now we’re starting to take some steps. I’ve got some other colleges to look at.”

Filpes, a multi-sport athlete, had not yet taken the field for the Canes this spring due to a basketball injury. He was looking forward to joining the baseball squad in the back half of the season.

Coral Shores ended the abrupt season at 4-5 but were on a three-game win streak and in second place in league standings with a dozen regular-season games remaining.

“We have a really good team this year. We were going to win the district for sure,” Lindsey said.

Marathon High School’s Dolphins, at 7-3 and standing atop District 16-3A, certainly will disagree. But with the two Keys teams not yet having played each other this spring, it will remain an unknown.

Coral Shores’ girls softball team, 5-1 and averaging 12 runs per game, had seven contests remaining before conference playoffs.

“It’s not just those two programs. There are a lot of ramifications,” Russell said. “We’ve had some good results in track and in powerlifting. But it’s impacting everyone equally. Things may be pushed back, but there will be opportunities.”