College baseball thrives on big moments. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, tie game with runners in scoring position. The fans are on the edge of their seats because that moment decides what will happen for that game or even that season. But for a player like myself, this can help decide what will happen with my career. Am I going to help give my team another chance or is this game going to be over? It is something we like to call the uncontrollables.

The uncontrollables are the things you have no control over. The weather, the umpire and the fans are all examples of things I have no control over when I’m pitching. I like to think I have been in a lot of tough spots when on the mound, so when tested, I should be ready.

But this is a little different.

Instead of trying to get out of a stressful situation, I now am trying to keep my social distance from others. This is a time where in place of figuring out a game plan, I am trying to find things to keep me busy during my day. The set schedule of lifting weights at 6 a.m., class at 8:30, class at 11, practice at 2:30 and class at 6:30 doesn’t exist anymore. It is more of what I can do to keep myself in shape and entertained for the next 14 hours.

A photo of Noll throwing a pitch during a game.
Noll’s final season was altered dramatically in the face of the pandemic.

It is like being thrown a curveball in a 2-0 count. I wasn’t expecting this.

My senior year was about going out with a bang. Making memories with my teammates and filling up my book of lasts. My last fall season in college, my last first start, and then what I thought was soon to come — my last collegiate baseball game.

I was ready for what I thought was going to be my last season because of all the preparation I put in during the fall. All of the early mornings in the weight room and practice until the sun goes down felt like a routine. Day after day, I knew I would be able to suit up and practice with my teammates with a common goal in mind.

A championship.

This is still a goal of our returning team, but it comes with a few more bumps in the road. Instead of our weight training area at school, we are now using whatever we can find to get our workouts in. Pets, water cases, cement blocks and furniture are all in play for any added weight. It isn’t something that you would call your average weight room, but it is something that I have to deal with during times like these.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. If you miss your spot pitching, you need to make an in-game adjustment to help get you back on track. If you keep fouling the ball off to the pull side, you need to make an adjustment so you can put the ball in play.

The scenario I was dealt this year was like a missed strike-three call. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted at all, I am still in the fight. It is about making that little adjustment for the time being that will get me back on the path to rewriting my book of lasts.

Zack Noll posing for a photo in his PLNU uniform with a baseball.
Baseball taught Noll how to make adjustments and that’s exactly what he plans to continue doing.

Zack Noll is a senior multimedia journalism major at Point Loma Nazarene University. He is eligible to utilize the redshirt year the NCAA granted athletes in spring sports and return for the 2021 season.

This story was originally published in The San Diego Union-Tribune. It has been adapted for our platform and can be read in entirety here.

PLNU’s the Viewpoint publishes relevant and vital stories that grapple with life's profound questions from a uniquely Christian perspective. In addition to the content offered online, the Viewpoint print magazine is published three times a year in spring, summer, and fall.