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Ericson enjoys fond farewell

Team, coaches put on parade for Ursuline senior softball star

Staff photo / John Vargo Ursuline senior softball player Emma Ericson is surprised by the drive-by parade her team put together Tuesday. Ericson was the lone senior on the Irish’s softball team.

BOARDMAN — There were more than a dozen cars gathered in an empty Boardman Library parking lot.

Signs, balloons and gifts.

The Ursuline High School softball team gathered together and left as a caravan south of Boardman High School toward Emma Ericson’s house.

Ericson was the Irish’s lone senior. She’s headed to Fairmont State University next season, but she didn’t have a chance to help her Ursuline team succeed in 2020.

Ursuline was 25-3 last season, and it looked as if the Irish would be on a collision course with Poland in another Division II Youngstown District final.

Correspondent photo / John Vargo Ursuline softball coach Michael Kernan shows off his sign celebrating his team's lone senior Emma Ericson Tuesday in Boardman.

The COVID-19 pandemic took a foothold around the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, the United States and the world as the month of March progressed. Spring sports, including softball, were postponed and later canceled.

No pings of the aluminum bats. No smack of the softball hitting a leather glove. No chants coming from the field or dugouts. Ball fields fell silent.

The caravan that drove by Ericson’s house was her brief respite of being inundated with social distancing and other things keeping her away from her teammates.

She came home prior to the caravan and saw green and gold signs littered all over her yard to celebrate her career with the Irish.

Ericson stood at the end of her driveway as cars passed by one by one, giving her gifts as confetti was strewn throughout the air in the midst of honking horns.

She said she was surprised, especially about coach Michael Kernan writing up his own poster for her to see.

“It does make me happy because I was expecting to play the season with my teammates,” Ericson said. “Unfortunately we didn’t. It does make me happy that we can be together just a little bit in this time.”

She pitched 75 1/3 innings last year with 71 strikeouts for Ursuline. Ericson had a 11-1 record with a 1.97 ERA and two shutouts. The past three seasons, she had a 22-5 mark with 163 strikeouts, a 1.95 ERA, four shutouts and a no-hitter.

At the plate, Ericson posted a career batting average of .312 with 16 doubles and 57 RBIs.

“Everything she gave and brought to the program, her unselfishness, her leadership, her work ethic, her attitude,” Kernan said. “In 19 years, to see those people come and go, you’re lucky when you get those in. The fact that she didn’t get to get her senior season adds a little more to the bite.”

She’s the team’s lone senior, but the Irish have talent coming back next season.

It won’t be the same without Ericson.

“You still miss this as a coach,” Kernan said. “You don’t have this caliber of talent every year. You miss that. And a kid like Emma, again, it’s a bigger bite than you wanted.”

Junior Emily Holland stood in the Boardman Library lot saying Ericson was one the first welcoming faces she encountered with the Irish.

Holland said Ericson is always the one who picks everyone on the team up when they’re down. Having this senior night is only fitting.

“I think it’s really nice to come together, everyone here,” Holland said. “We put a lot of work into this. We wanted to make it special. I think it’s really nice we got to do something.”

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