LaGrange’s 2020 seniors get their day
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a disappointing way to end what was shaping up to be a memorable season.
The LaGrange High baseball team, with 12 seniors leading the way, was coming off a doubleheader sweep of Spalding County last March to improve to 9-3 heading into the all-important Region 2-AAAA schedule.
Unfortunately for the Grangers, and those 12 seniors, what would have happened the remainder of the season will forever remain a mystery.
The day after those Spalding County games, all sports activities in Troup County were shut down as the community, the state, and the country did their best to deal with the growing COVID-19 crisis.
At the time, the hope was that sports could resume, but that didn’t happen, and all of the spring seasons were eventually canceled.
The seniors on those teams were not only denied the chance to finish their seasons, but they didn’t get to have a senior day.
At LaGrange High, an effort was made to rectify that.
Nothing could be done about the games that were lost, but there could still be a senior day.
On Thursday afternoon at Granger Park, the seniors on the 2020 baseball team got together to celebrate their time as teammates, to have a senior day, albeit a year late.
Each one of the seniors was introduced by LaGrange athletics director Mike Pauley, and they were joined on the field by their family members.
It doesn’t make up for the disappointment of losing a season, but it was nonetheless a special day as the friends and now former teammates got to share a baseball field one more time.
“It means so much,” said one of the seniors, Will Flowers. “We were so close. We’d been playing together since T-ball. We’d been talking about our senior year for so long, and finally we got to be the seniors. It sucked that it got taken away, but this was about the second-best thing we could have done. I appreciate all the moms putting this together. My mom did a lot. It means a lot.”
It was the first time some of the seniors had been together since everything was shut down last March.
“It was great getting to see everybody,” said Walton Lanier. “I’d seen a couple of them, but a lot of them I haven’t seen since school ended.”
Mason Green, LaGrange’s shortstop last season, was glad to get the chance to have a senior day, even if it was a year later than expected.
“This was really nice. We didn’t get this opportunity last year,” Green said. “I really wish with this group of guys we would have gotten the opportunity to finish (the season).”
Donnie Branch, who began his second stint as LaGrange’s head coach in 2019, enjoyed being around the seniors, and not just because of their baseball skills.
“I appreciated the group when we had them,” Branch said. “It was a lot more than baseball. These guys, I got to have them for a second year. They were bought in. We were completely different in one year with how we worked, how we did our business. We didn’t have one issue in those 13 games.”
Four members of the class of 2020 have continued to play a sport in college.
Charles Crawford (Brown University), Green (Marion Military Institute), Lanier (Central Alabama Community College) are playing college baseball, while Flowers (East Tennessee State) is playing college football.
The other seniors from last year’s team are Sam Yates, Jake Cardwell, Brant Williams, Ethan Hadaway, Blake Hadaway, Cole Crawford, Cole Cox, and Logan Karcher.
“We felt like we had a real special group of young men, not just as players, but as people, and we’re excited about their future,” Branch said. “They’re going to be good husbands, and fathers, and community leaders. We’re really high on