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With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the high school sports season suspended, seniors who play spring sports are missing out on their final athletic opportunities. With that in mind, each week during the spring the Shore Sports Network will feature a senior athlete who would normally be making headlines on the field, diamond, track, golf course, tennis court or volleyball court. Each athlete will receive a $25 Jersey Mike’s gift card as the iconic Jersey Shore business continues its support of Shore Conference athletics.

Photo by Vickie Hay. Artwork by Steve Meyer/Townsquare Media NJ.
Photo by Vickie Hay. Artwork by Steve Meyer/Townsquare Media NJ.

Athlete: Karina Gaskins 

School: Donovan Catholic

Spring Sport: Softball 

Position: First base

Bio: The reigning Gatorade New Jersey Softball Player of the Year had an incredible junior season to lead Donovan Catholic to a 24-1 record and the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title. Gaskins batted .682 with 17 home runs, 48 RBI and 46 runs scored to go along with a .720  on-base percentage and a 1.637 slugging percentage. She is a two-time NJ.com New Jersey Softball Player of the Year, as well. As a sophomore, Gaskins hit .602 with 50 hits, 18 home runs, 67 RBI, 45 runs, 10 doubles and 14 walks. Despite missing most of her freshman year because of an injury, Gaskins has 37 home runs, 129 RBI and 108 runs for her career.

Other sports: “None. Once I found softball I knew that it was the only sport I wanted to play. So, I just focus on softball year-round.”

College plans: Signed to the University of Notre Dame

How are you staying in shape/practicing your sport: “My parents, brother and I went to the local park a few times so I could hit on a field and throw. Now that parks are closed, I hit in my backyard and still continue to throw. My family has started to bike ride often as well as going on the treadmill for cardio and I do a lot of bodyweight workouts.”

Hardest part of being out of school/sports: “The hardest part is having to get used to not seeing my friends every day. I’ve known some of my teammates since seventh grade and I was used to being with them 24/7. It’s hard to not see anyone on weekends and having so much downtime. It’s been a while since I’ve had nothing to do during the spring and it’s even harder that it’s not by choice.

“I’ve also had to come to terms that I likely won’t be playing my final year of high school sports. My teammates and I worked extremely hard the past three years and to just not have that final year was hard to accept. Not only that, but not being able to see the friends I didn’t meet through softball is difficult. I don’t get to see the people that made the past four years of high school fun and soon we’ll all be going off to college and we don’t know when we’ll see each other next. As a senior, we also aren’t sure if we’ll have graduation or prom. I think that just having so many things up in the air right now is making this difficult.

“Sometimes, you don’t realize how important something is to you until it gets taken away and I feel as though that is what happened. Online school is not too bad, just different. My teachers have been very understanding that it is harder to learn online than in a classroom, so classes are not too bad.”

One positive that has come from having to stay home: “I've been spending a lot more time with my family. Softball is a year-round sport and sometimes I’m not home for a while, so having all this time with them, especially before college, is a positive.

Favorite stay-at-home activity: “I have been baking non-stop. My mom used to bake all the time and now that I’m not as busy I just can’t help but make something.

Coach’s corner: “Karina is one of the most talented players I have had the privilege to coach. What makes her stand out from other players is her confidence. She also has an outstanding ability to remain calm, cool and collected in high-pressure situations. Since her freshman year, Karina has had a confidence you typically do not see in younger players. I believe her confidence comes from her work ethic and overall ability. Karina possesses unbelievable strength. The strength and her work ethic have made her an excellent hitter (as seen in the statistics she has put up in the previous three years). Let's not forget her ability as a fielder (1B). Lastly, her ability to read pitchers and make in-game adjustments is phenomenal.” – Donovan Catholic head coach Debbie Schwartz.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.