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story.lead_photo.caption Linden-Kildare shortstop Dalton Alford celebrates after tagging Valley Mills Eagles pitcher Chase Keeton for the out before he can get back to second base in a Class 2A state semifinal June 5, 2019, in Round Rock, Texas. The Tigers won, 5-0. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

LINDEN, Texas — The chance to go back to the state baseball tournament no longer exists.

Linden-Kildare, who fell 7-1 to Dallardsville Big Sandy in the Class 2A championship game last season, will not get a chance to go back to the state tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was sad to hear the news, but at least we aren't guessing anymore," Tigers head coach John Roberts said. "It was only good in the sense that we finally knew something for sure. We kept pushing things further and further back. Everything was up in the air."

Texas governor Greg Abbott made the decision to close all schools for the remainder of the year on Friday, and the UIL canceled all spring sports for 2020.

Linden-Kildare lost five senior starters but still entered the 2020 season state ranked. Standout senior players Deuce Schuler and Nic Kunze were back but now have lost a great majority of their senior seasons. Schuler and Kunze had started for Roberts since they were freshmen.

Linden-Kildare Tigers third baseman Jacob Owen catches the ball for an out before a Dallardsville Big Sandy Wildcats runner can reach the base during the Class 2A state championship on June 6, 2019, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. The Tigers lost, 1-7.
Photo by Hunt Mercier/Texarkana Gazette.

"I thanked Deuce and Nic for all they had done for the program," Roberts said. "I personally thanked them and spent some time talking to them in private conversation. I wanted them to hear from me. I didn't want to do it in a text or a post. I made sure to call them so they could hear it from me, personally."

The other senior on the team was Red Tyson. Tyson was a part timer who bounced between track and baseball.

The Tigers got off to a slow start in 2020, mainly due to losing five starters. But they were just beginning to come together and find their identity as a team when the season was postponed back in March. Roberts evaluated his players and had to adjust where most of them played.

"Almost everyone was in a different position," Roberts said. "When the season came to a halt, we had won three straight games. They were starting to understand their roles, but it was brought to an end. It's disappointing for every team. I wanted to play the season and let those kids have those experiences. This is a year in which the kids are going to lose out on those experiences. I feel for any spring sport athlete because they don't get to have those experiences this year."

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