Editor’s Note: For 20 days in April, the Deseret News will profile 20 elite high school athletes from the 2020 graduating class and how they’re coping with the premature end of senior life on and off the field.
WEST JORDAN — Makaiya Gomez has every reason to be ticked off right now.
Arguably the best softball player in the state, the Copper Hills senior was poised for a banner season in trying to lead the Grizzlies to a 6A state championship. She was easily on the shortlist of possible Deseret News Ms. Softball recipients as well.
The global spread of COVID-19 has put her senior season on hold, perhaps permanently, but her own fortunes isn’t what Gomez is worried about. She’s got college softball at the University of Utah in her future, while most of her peers don’t.
“It makes me feel for my other senior friends that are on the boys soccer team, baseball team, and our softball team because I know so many of them aren’t going to be able to continue the sport after this spring season,” said Gomez. “You want to be there for them cause you know it can be pretty devastating.”
“Softball for me is where I get to go play and be relieved of all the outside stresses of school and life, but it’s also where I’m with 22 of my best friends.” — Copper Hills’ Makaiya Gomez
She tries to offer words of encouragement as often she can to friends and other sports, and to her softball “sisters” she is communicating regularly. She wants to everyone to try and be as upbeat and positive as possible about the potential resumption of the softball season after May 1, and reminds everyone to keep working out on their own.
The thought of not getting back on the diamond with her teammates this spring is what saddens Gomez.
“Softball for me is where I get to go play and be relieved of all the outside stresses of school and life, but it’s also where I’m with 22 of my best friends,” said Gomez. “I know that can be a little bit of a cliché to say we’re like family and sisters, but this year it had really come together quickly and early in the season so I’m missing out and seeing some of my best friends.”
While she spends most of her time at home like much of the world right now, Gomez is still able to interact with some of her peers at work at Waffle Love. She’s been able to pick up more daytime hours without school, and it’s been a good distraction from the lack of softball.
Gomez she spends a lot of time cleaning and disinfecting and trying to keep everything even more clean than normal at work.
She said her dad is making sure she’s staying safe as well at work.
“My dad has been super cautious with this and making sure I’m always washing my hands, and I’m carrying hand sanitizer around and I’m not touching my face or my mouth,” said Gomez.
When she’s not at work, or doing home schooling, Gomez said her mind wanders and envisions what great things Copper Hills would be doing right now competing for a region and state championship. She would’ve been an integral part of that success.
Last year the center fielder was voted a Deseret News first team all-stater after batting .677 with 20 extra base hits and a .701 on-base percentage.
In seven games this season before the UHSAA suspension she had pretty much picked up right where she left off. In 23 plate appearances she was batting .684 with three doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. She was also 4 for 4 on stolen base attempts.
Her career batting average in four years playing varsity softball is .553 with 112 RBI over 76 games.
Gomez is trying to be as optimistic as possible that she’ll get to spray the ball around the high school diamond a few more times before her focus shifts to Pac-12 softball.