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Season ends early for Troup baseball team

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It’s not how Troup baseball coach Craig Garner envisioned saying goodbye to his players.

Last week, high-school sports teams across the state found out their seasons weren’t going to resume when governor Brian Kemp announced that schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Troup High’s baseball team was just past the halfway mark of the regular season when the season was suspended, and a few weeks later it was canceled.

“We had about six guys come down to the field that night to get their stuff, and kind of clean out their locker and get their glove, their bat,” Garner said. “Four of those were seniors. It was tough. You could tell they were kind of heart-broken, but they were handling it well.”

The Tigers went 6-10 during an up-and-down season, but Garner felt the team was beginning to turn a corner, and he was looking forward to the start of Region 5-AAAA competition.

“The team kind of reminded me a lot about the first year we went to the (state) semifinals,” Garner said. “A lot of similarities in a lot of ways. We felt like we were turning the corner, and starting to get better.

“We were just starting to get back on the field and getting back into it. I felt good about the second half of the year.”

While the wins were hard to come by, Garner said it was a pleasure to coach this group of players.

“This year especially was one of those years where the guys have enjoyed being around one another,” Garner said. “For the most part they got along really well. It was a good group of guys to coach, and very enjoyable to coach this year.”

The Tigers were at least able to play 16 games, and that gave Garner an opportunity to coach his three sons, Cade, Carson and Cole, and there were times when all three of them were on the field at the same time.

“Cole and Cade had never really gotten to play with one another, so it was kind of their first time. Carson and Cole had played together some coming up, and Cade hadn’t,” Craig Garner said. “It was special this year, getting to see all three of them on the same field at the same time. That was pretty cool. I did enjoy that.”

Cade Garner, who has committed to play baseball at Southern Union, is one of the seniors who didn’t get to see the season to its conclusion.

The other seniors are Chance Lester, Caleb McCurry, Luke Purnell, Grayson Garner, and Guy Morris.

Lester’s season was unfortunately cut short when he was injured before the season started.

Those seniors will not only miss the rest of the baseball season, but all of their other senior activities.

“It’s simple things, like a walkthrough at their elementary school,” Garner said. “Little things that people don’t think or realize, but it’s special. It’s like a rite of passage into the next part of their lives, and they’re not going to get to do.”

Looking ahead to the 2021 season, the Tigers appeared well-positioned to accomplish some big things with so many talented players returning.

“There were several games where we started three freshmen,” Garner said. “Plus, our top two pitchers were sophomores.”