Sebastian Sarabia of Simi Valley had 20 hits in nine games and a .588 batting average, giving him hope that his performance would attract the attention of college baseball recruiters.
The Simi Valley Unified School District announced on Wednesday that campuses would remain closed for the rest of the school year, effectively ending Sarabia’s senior season.
“This was something out of our control and it sucks,” he said.
Life has been turned upside down for seniors with aspirations of earning college scholarships through their spring sports performances.
“I was trying to be the best player possible and have fun in my last year in high school and be able to play with my friends,” Sarabia said.
He accomplished that. It just came to an end earlier than he could have imagined.
The final game he played was an 8-0 loss to Moorpark on March 11. The next day, during a team dinner, it was announced the season had been suspended.
“The first thing is denial,” he said. “No, no, no. We’ll be fine. As soon as we heard Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, it was, ‘Oh, maybe there’s a shot.’ Then we heard the NBA suspended its season. Yeah, we’re done.”
Sarabia, a catcher, had a streak in which he collected nine consecutive hits. All the hard work he did last summer and in the winter, staying after practice to hit and working with coaches on the weekend, was paying off.
“I was trying to open the door and hoped this season would help out,” he said of his college ambitions. “One thing led to another and now I’m stuck at home.”
Simi Valley coach John Arisohn said he has been impressed with the maturity of Sarabia.
“It sucks for him, but he’s going after the things he can control,” he said. “With the season ending, he could be real bitter or upset. He’s more upset he didn’t get to finish with all his friends.”
That lost opportunity to say goodbye to teammates is what pains many. Sarabia has known most since middle school. One Simi Valley player he has known since kindergarten.
“Whatever happens happen, and you have to deal with it,” he said.
Sarabia has been spending most of his time the last three weeks at home with his mother and an older sister. When he needs space, he goes to his room or practices hitting outside. He’s been taking walks, playing card games, taking out the trash, washing dishes and watching television.
“I love my mom, but we butt heads sometimes as all kids do and growing up with two older sisters is not the best,” he said. “But they’d do anything for me and I’d do anything for them.”
Sarabia said he’s planning to attend junior college, and he’s good with that. While his baseball dreams are on hold, he’s passing on lessons he learned to the younger players at Simi Valley.
“Never take anything for granted,” he said. “Always appreciate what you have. I told the underclassmen this could be taken away any time.”