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PREP BASEBALL OPINION: Campbellsville is gracious in defeat

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By Josh Claywell

 

When you get where you're goin'
Don't forget turn back around
Help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

 

Losing is never fun, especially when it’s the last game of your career.

And it’s especially tough when a player realizes that was the last time they were going to put on their uniform to represent their school.

But the Campbellsville Eagles were gracious in defeat Saturday night, when their season came to an end in the 5th Region Baseball Tournament semifinals.

The Eagles were no doubt stunned as the LaRue County Hawks – the eventual region champions – rallied for a 5-4 victory, scoring the winning runs on a throwing error to advance to Sunday’s championship game against Central Hardin.

But as Campbellsville’s players walked off the field, there was no animosity, anger or bitterness. The Eagles weren’t supposed to make it this far, and they weren’t among the favorites to win what was viewed as a wide-open tournament.

But there they were, one win away from playing for the region championship for the first time since 2011 and two from securing a spot in the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament for the first time since 1973.

But baseball is a funny, and sometimes cruel, game. It takes just one little mishap, one little thing to go wrong, for a game to turn on its head.

That’s what happened to the Eagles Saturday night. The throwing error allowed two runs to score, ending the game.

First-year Campbellsville coach Blake Milby refused to place the blame solely on that one play, saying there were other times his players didn’t make plays. Those missed opportunities finally caught up to the Eagles.

After LaRue County’s Bryson Cobb slid across home plate, the Hawks erupted in jubilation as the Eagles walked to their dugout. For seniors Wyatt Houk and Ethan Lay, reality began to sink in. They had just played their last game in a Campbellsville High School jersey.

The Eagles waited patiently as the Hawks’ celebration wrapped up, then walked toward home plate for the traditional post-game handshake line. Several players shook hands for more than a few seconds with the Hawks, and Campbellsville players wished LaRue County good luck in the championship.

LaRue County Athletic Director David Dawson even commended the Eagles on Twitter, saying they were “VERY classy in defeat tonight.”

The Eagles then huddled together in left field for the final time this season. Tears were shed and hugs were shared among players and coaches, with Houk and Lay lingering on the field a bit longer than the other players. Neither wanted to leave the field, as they knew that meant their high school careers truly were over.

But they never let their heads drop, instead walking off the field with a sense of pride in what the team accomplished in 2018. The Eagles won the 5th Region All ‘A’ Tournament and the 20th District championship, heading into region on a roll.

But again, baseball is a funny game. It doesn’t always work out the way players want it to, and seasons sometime end in heartbreaking fashion.

The Eagles handled it all with class and dignity, and that’s how it should be – no matter the circumstances.

 

When those dreams you're dreamin' come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind