Westwood Baseball: Finding the Life Lessons

#1 – Donnie Weston, #2 – BJ Williams, #3 – Hayden Caldwell, #4 – Coby Buck, #5 – Mikah Conner, #6 – Eddie Olmeda, #8 – Zach Gore, #9 – Dylan Bailey, #10 – JaQuez Scarborough, #11 – John Janco, #12 – Joseph Bennett, #13 – Gaines Salvant, #14 – Mason Ginnery, #15 – Sam Williams, #16 – Colby Linn, #22 – Bryce Breeden, #24 – Liam Ginnery

The Westwood baseball team had a lot to prove this season.
Like any other program looking down the road at a long building period, the Redhawks were intent on practicing hard, playing hard, and no matter what the score was on the scoreboard, enjoying the time on the field.

Five games into the season, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic brought Westwood’s season to a close, first with Gov. Henry McMaster’s order March 14 closing all public schools until March 31, then with McMaster’s supplemental order extending that deadline the 2019-2020 school year.

With the spring sports season officially cancelled, Westwood’s short 2020 season is all but in the books.

“We’re trying to use this as a life lesson, that things can change in an instant,” first-year head coach Mike McDermott said. “They’ve taken it very well. They haven’t let it determine their future plans. The kids have been doing workouts via Excel spreadsheet, and it’s been great. I know they’ve been missing being on the field, as have I.”

The Redhawks went 0-5, but won three preseason games, and McDermott saw a lot of potential in the team. In lieu of games, the team has taken to working out and practicing on their own, with check-ins online.

“The first couple of games were rough, but we had a really good team and the kids knew it,” he said of the season. “It’s been going well since then. It’s been hit and miss. Sometimes the kids have been down and out with the way things have transpired.”

The team’s six seniors, B.J. Williams, Hayden Caldwell, Coby Buck, Edwin Olmeda Jr., Joseph “JAB” Bennett, and Gaines Salvant are now in the process of moving past their time at Westwood. Williams will play at Georgia Premier Academy in the fall, and the others are continuing their workouts to stay on top of their game. Salvant looks to get onto a junior college team in the fall, while the others are deciding on college choices and weighing the possibility of finding athletic scholarships.

The ending of their high school career was anticlimactic, but McDermott said again that in this odd situation is a learning experience, about enjoying the time you have and making the most of your time in school and with teammates.

“It’s a matter of having your senior year and your best season taken from you,” he said. “Senior night was supposed to be this Thursday, and instead of that we’re going to put together a tribute to them online. They’re a great group and they’re handling it much better than I would at that age, I’ll tell you that.”