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Staying in the Game: FSU Batgirls keeping tradition alive despite COVID restrictions

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:18 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - When you think of a day at the ballpark, you might think of hot dogs, catching a foul ball, the seventh inning stretch and all the other things that make baseball so unique.

The 2021 collegiate baseball season has had some added uniqueness due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Seminoles have found new ways to keep tradition going in an untraditional season.

If baseball is a house, it’s foundation is tradition. And, if that’s the case, there aren’t many homes on the block built on sturdier ground than Florida State baseball.

A solid core built on the back of legends and legacy, chants and cheers, merit and memories.

But, before Eleven became a proper noun; before Holton, Rammer, JD and Buster all etched their names in the record books; before the Animals turned a national anthem into a rallying cry; the Florida State Bat Girls were helping the game move along.

“We weren’t cheerleaders or anything, we were just batgirls that liked the game and liked the sport, shagged the bats, kept the score and I’d kept score in Junior College so I was, fortunately, from a family that loves sports and baseball and baseball became my life,: said Becky Thornburgh Lynn Nolan.

And ever since, under Jack Stallings, Woody Woodward, Dick Howser and both Mike Martin Sr. and Jr., the bat girls have been ready to help at a moment’s notice down the baseline and in the dugouts.

“They’re invaluable,” said Mike Martin Jr. “There’s so many things that they do in helping with functions that we have and recruiting and there’s all sorts of things that go into how they benefit us.”

But, like many things since last March, the bat girls have been sidelined from the sidelines.

“They’re not tested like we’re tested so they can’t be around in the dugouts and some of the things they used to be able to help us out with,” Meat explained.

“I don’t think the NCAA made their official announcement on no one was going to be allowed on the field until maybe,” recalls Karlie Wright, a current FSU Batgirl. “It was less than a month before the season.”

However, like any good foundation, the Batgirls have weathered the storm, keeping their duties in the plaza and creating new ones, like keeping the bats flowing, keeping the fans going on the jumbotron and trading metal bats for plastic thermometers.

“It’s been so much more about interacting with the fans, hanging out with them in the plaza,” Wright explained. “We had a fan bring us cookies yesterday so it’s just been so nice that even though this role isn’t exactly what we expected, my favorite thing that we’ve gotten out of this is that we get to spend more one on one time with the fans. There’s just a lot less people so we took over a lot of responsibilities from a lot of other people that unfortunately weren’t able to be here this year.”

So while, yes, the age of COVID has made the Batgirls more utility players than they’re used to being, they’re far from being struck out.

“I’m here for the baseball, but I’m just as much here for all the fans that make this baseball stadium what it is,” Wright added.

“Not a lot of people have them and they bring an awful lot,” said Meat. “I’m not sure how many programs have them but the ones that don’t they should.”

“I know it’s been a rough year. It’s been a rough year for us that couldn’t even watch the game let alone go to the game but it’s an honor and a tradition to be a Florida State Batgirl,” continued. “Now and forever.”

Put ‘em in coach, they’re ready to play.

The Batgirls are responsible for temperature checking and health screening all personnel coming in to work the game, from the concessions to the press.

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