George Randolph

Former Owensboro Catholic High School softball coach George Randolph laughs with his team during the 3rd Region Softball Tournament championship game on May 31, 2017, at Ray Jones Sports Complex in Greenville.

Few are as empathetic as former Owensboro Catholic High School softball coach George Randolph with regard to the indefinite suspension of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s spring sports seasons.

For more than two decades, Randolph carved out one of the most enviable records in state history — leading the Lady Aces to five fast-pitch softball state championships and one slow-pitch state crown.

But Randolph’s appreciation of high school softball went way beyond winning — it became, in fact, a way of life.

“I miss being around the coaches, the players, game preparation, competing,” said Randolph, who resigned his softball post following the 2017 season. “When I look back, that’s what I miss the most.

“I also miss our spring break trips — the excitement in the air of a new season beginning, warm weather, spending time with family, eating fresh seafoord. Those were fun times.”

It has not, however, been fun for spring sports teams in 2020, as they’ve been shut down due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just can’t imagine being in that situation,” Randolph said. “You think of these young athletes and all the time they’ve put in head of the season and you just know it’s got to be tough on them — and, of obviously, it’s especially tough for the seniors. I’m heartbroken for them.”

Randolph is holding out a ray of hope that some semblance of a season can still be played.

“At this point, probably all you could do is play your district schedule and then just go right into the postseason,” he said. “That’s probably a best-case scenario, they may not even be able to do that — we’ll have to take this one day at a time and see what happens.”

In the course of a quarter century, since fast-pitch softball was sanctioned by the KHSAA, playing the game has become virtually a year-around proposition.

A lot of hard work is put into it by these players,” Randolph said. “With the evolution of travel ball, you can play all through the summer and fall, and even in the winter months players still find ways to work on their pitching, hitting and fielding.”

Randolph also wonders about the status of the upcoming summer travel ball season.

“It’s a big investment for families,” he said. “Most of these teams are put together in the late fall and early winter, and these families have paid up and are ready to go. Again, it’s one of those situations where we just don’t know where we’ll be on all this in June and July — it remains to be seen.”

At Catholic, Randolph’s teams won KHSAA fast-pitch state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2009. Also during his tenure, the Lady Aces were fast-pitch state runners-up in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2013.

Now 60, Randolph is still an assistant coach for the Catholic High football team and he remains a teacher of sophomore theology at the school. In addition, he has a morning bus route to Henderson to pick up Catholic High students, and he continues to drive the school’s athletic teams to competitions.

“I’d like to stay with it until I’m 63,” he said. “At that point I want to step and take a look at things, figure out what I want to do from there.”

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