Varsity Baseball Advances to Area

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2021 Varsity Baseball Team

Dylan Dodge, David Stephens, Staff Writers

Sports are not for everybody. You may not enjoy baseball or sports in general but what you don’t realize is that whatever you enjoy: Theatre, Arts, Choir, etc. is that they are all similar. To be good at any of these you have to practice and work hard at them to achieve a goal. Baseball is no different, you must have a good work ethic and want the same outcome as your teammates to finish the season as the best in the state.

The Gary baseball team finished District with a record of 12-4 making them 20-7 overall with the two wins against San Augustine Wolves for the bi-district championship. Gary ended the playoff run losing in a close series against Alto in the area playoffs Saturday, May 15 in Nacogdoches. 

“The team’s relationship is great,” senior outfielder Payton Chamness said. “We all joke around with each other, but when it’s time to get serious we go out there and play.”

According to the players and the coaches, it’s the chemistry and the relationships within the team that has been propelling this team to victories.

“The players have held this team together,” assistant coach Luke Miller said. “I think the players are what drive us as coaches and the players themselves to keep winning. Are we super talented? I would say not, we have a lot of talent, but we’re not one of those teams who can just go out there without any practice and win a ball game. It’s because of that chemistry that this group has developed that has made the difference in the way we play.”

When you are doing a competition alone you can play for the fans and yourself but on a team, you have to be selfless and play for your teammates and coaches to have success. This may be one of the keys that weren’t turning for some of the players until now.

“The past few seasons Gary’s baseball team has kind of been about me and myself and how I can achieve my own goals,” junior catcher Jaydan Cockerham said. “But being on this team has changed me as a person, instead of focusing so much on myself I’ve been focusing on what I can do to make the team better. I think the reason for this change is because I’ve had to work with people I never really had to before and that has changed my whole outlook on the game of baseball.”

Many of the players believe that being around all of the new players and returning players as well is the best thing about the sport and why that makes baseball the most enjoyable.

“Baseball is the greatest sport,” senior outfielder Ty Ransom said. “Getting to be around everybody and having new relationships with everyone on the team, even the freshmen. My teammates make life fun.”

Your teammates can also push you to new limits you never thought that you could reach.

“My teammates are the main reason that I’ve grown at all from last year,” senior pitcher Landon Woodfin said. “If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have been able to go out to the mound every week and pitch a great game. They push me to go beyond what I think I’m capable of doing.”

Sometimes the relationships on the field can even translate to off the field making the companionships even more impactful.

“I love my teammates more than they will even know,” senior shortstop Dakota Beckham said. “We’ve stuck together through thick, and thin. They are some of the funniest guys I know, on and off the field. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be teammates with. We’ve had our rough days for sure but we’ve fought through it together. I’m lucky to have always been on a team that have been good friends and winners. This the last ride, so we might as well make it count”

Part of being a coach is enduring and battling through the hard seasons and knowing and fixing what you mess up. Once you learn how to work with the players and start to grow a connection with them then it becomes easy to love your job.

“I always loved my coaches,” head coach Blake Wallace said. “I didn’t know that it was something I wanted to do until I got to student teaching. I thought I was doing it for the wrong reasons. Then when I started coaching, I realized that I loved it. When you take a head coaching job you don’t know if you’re ready for it, but I think I stepped up to the plate when I needed to. I learned some things, messed up some things, but overall I’ve enjoyed coaching this team.”

For some players, it will be a bit upsetting to know that the players they look up to will be leaving and that is not different for one of the sophomores.

“It’s going to be sad to see all of the seniors leave,” sophomore third baseman Darin Livingston said. “It’s going to be a little scary also knowing that I’m going to have to be one of the leaders on a young team. I’m not exactly sure how the first year will go but, I’m excited about what the future holds in store for the team.”

However, Darin won’t be the only person who misses the seniors.

“It’s kind of strange being the only freshman on a team filled with seniors,” freshman David Stephens said. “I’ve been used to having people around me who are about my age, but I’ve learned so much just from the interactions I’ve had with the seniors, and I’ll miss them when they leave and I hope that I can continue to grow and become a big part of this team whenever I get the chance.”

In terms of next year, a senior wanted to share his input on what he thinks the team will look like in the upcoming seasons.

“They’ll be a young scrappy team next year,” senior first baseman Cody Baugher said. “It’s going to be a few tough few seasons for them moving forward but, I think they’ll make it. They have great coaches and great potential to help lead them to success.”

Baseball can build long-lasting friendships and good social skills. It can improve the way you see things and the way you act. Baseball is a sport like no other, nowhere can you grow the kind of bond with the players and the coaches and that is why to the players, the coaches, and the fans, that there is no sport greater than baseball.