The Championship Dream Remains

The 2020 Richard Winn Academy baseball season was one of promise that quickly turned into huge heartbreak. Up until March 13, the Eagles were undefeated with a 6-0 overall record, 3-0 in region play, when the season came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19. Building on the 2019 team’s success and advancement in the state championship series, the future looked bright for the Eagles.

“We knew that the potential for our team in 2020 was excellent. We had almost all of our players back from the 2019 team and knew that after another year in the weight room, we were very much in the hunt,” said Head Coach Paul Brigman.

According to Brigman, a return trip to the State Championship series was the 2020 team’s goal, focus, and major motivation; anything less would have been considered a disappointment. Brigman added that the players seemed to be more determined and mature than in the past and were playing some solid baseball in the young season with the potential to capture the championship title.

Unfortunately for the four seniors – Cam Bass, Jimmy McKeown, Brandon Miller, and Hudson Wade, the dream of a 2020 championship season would forever remain just that… a dream. As announcements were made about school closures, Brigman saw his high hopes for the season dashed.

“There was the utter disappointment watching our four seniors have their senior season ripped away from them overnight,” Brigman said. “All four of our seniors had been major players in our run to the 2019 State Championship series.”

McKeown, a polished left fielder with a quick bat, was a silent leader respected by his teammates. Brigman said McKeown was an inspiration to his teammates. After a season-ending injury during football, McKeown worked through rehab to get back into playing condition.

“He could have easily packed it in then, but instead, he worked harder than ever. The 2020 baseball season would be his chance to put all the pain and disappointment of fall behind him and finish in style. He was off to a good start.”

Brigman credited Bass, the team’s starting third baseman, as one of the hardest workers at the game.

“Cam was fearless, tireless… he practiced and played the right way, giving 100% at all times.”

Miller anchored right field, but Brigman looked to him in a number of situations. He was the team’s closer and batted in the #2 spot in the lineup. An All Region player his junior year, Miller was looking to push deeper in his final season.

Wade, one of the team’s most effective pitchers, was off to a solid start in the early season, picking up wins in his first two starts. According to Brigman, he was looking to be the top pitcher in the region in the 2020 season. 

As devastating as the season-ending announcement was for the seniors, Brigman says the feeling of disappointment did not stop there.

“I am disappointed that junior Zack Taylor, who has been our region’s Player of the Year for three straight years, was denied the chance to earn his 4th consecutive award. I am disappointed that we weren’t able to see a full season of our younger players, who have shown promise of being great players in our program. I’m disappointed for our players who had just moved up into our varsity program, and who missed out on the opportunity to spend a year soaking up the leadership that would come from our senior players.”

Looking forward, next year’s varsity squad should return around 12 players, including 5 starters, and will have a good group of players coming up from the Middle School program. Brigman says the future remains bright.

“We feel really good about where our program is currently, and it is our goal to grow even more in the future.”