This year Centenary finished atop the SCAC standings with a 15-3 record, just ahead of Trinity at 14-4. A lot of the games were away games this year, it seemed, and the ones early in the season that were at home were often cold and rainy, so we didn't make as many games this year as we usually do. But when we are there, well, it's just good baseball.
It's been about four years since I did a post about the program; we've seen these boys start as freshmen, grow and develop their game, and move on. It's our own little version of the Durham Bulls! The atmosphere is like family and over the years we've developed friendships with faculty, coaches, parents, and other locals that just come out in support.
Each team in the conference has a sort of reputation too: some are better sports than others, some are hostile to referees, some are as nice as they can be and invite you to visit their city.
But always it is just good fun. We've had some really memorable times! And we've seen some really standout players.
One of the standouts this year was senior Chris Zapata who is an outstanding catcher and a real power hitter. As pitcher, and first-baseman, Cole Lavergne was really exciting to watch; he threw some truly wicked pitches in the game today.
It is universally true in baseball that each pitcher and each batter has his own stance and his own quirks. There's the batter that always crosses the plate with his bat, or the one that stands just outside the box, then charges into it and takes his stance when he's ready; there's the pitcher that prowls around the mound like a caged tiger, scratching the dirt with his cleats, and the one that deeply arches his back and stares over his glove before he throws. They are all unique and entirely wonderful to watch.
But of course, it takes an entire team to produce a winning record like the Gents have done.
The parents are always great team boosters and at every home game can be seen boiling crawfish, frying fish, or grilling burgers, ready to feed the hungry players after the last pitch. Then there is Coach in the concession stand fixing up delicious Nathan's hot dogs or serving roasted peanuts; it just wouldn't be a game without that!
One of the joys of these games to me is seeing the children who come out: sweaty little boys with their baseball gloves thundering down the stands, running at breakneck speed to retrieve foul balls. The boys look with such admiration at the grown players and you can just see the dreams in their eyes.
Of course, the players can act like kids too - because really they still are; they're just about to launch into adulthood and are hanging on to this boys game for all it's worth. I watch the dugout as much as I watch the game because the players are always cheering each other on, yelling, singing, waving their arms, jumping around to the music playing over the PA, doing all kinds of crazy things. They are having a blast, which is the pure joy of baseball.
|Cheering on teammates returning from the outfield|
And the dogs: oh my are there dogs. At any game you can count on seeing four or five dogs from tiny Yorkies to full grown Labs.
The best part? It's free. So when someone comes and sits down in front of you in the fifth inning, and pops their umbrella...
|There goes my view of home plate.|
...you can just move.
Yes, this season is done at Shehee Stadium but next year will come soon enough. Until then, there's this video of the final out today and the celebration after. You can see Cole Lavergne on the mound and the fans stand up, applauding, to cheer him on...
God I love this game! And I love you, Centenary Gents! Thanks for another great season, and good luck in the tournament!