Booton and Branch named co-player and co-coach of the year for 4A

Published 4:02 pm Thursday, September 21, 2023

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The LaGrange baseball team got a coda on the 2023 season when head coach Donnie Branch and graduate pitcher Trevor Booton were named 4A co-coach and co-player of the year by the Georgia Dugout Club.

“I was just sitting around in one of my buddy’s dorms and got a text telling me I won, which was a surprise because I thought everything was done with awards this late in the year,” Booton said. “I was shocked when coach Branch sent me the text with the news.”

For Branch, it was the second straight year winning the award, but what makes it so special is winning alongside a player for the second straight season as Zack Thompson won this prestigious honor the year prior.

“Your best players should be the hardest workers and high-caliber kids,” Branch said. “When your best players are models for the team like Zack Thompson and Trevor Booton have been, you know you’re going to have a chance to have a special team.”

The Granger program is coming off to straight 4A state runner-up finishes and enjoyed the best two-year stretch in program history. Branch is quick to deflect the praise on his coaching staff and players like Booton.

“I have to give a ton of credit to my coaching staff because they really help make me look good,” Branch said. 

Booton was aces for the Grangers in his senior season, going 13-0 including a win in game two of the state championship series. For Branch, there was no player more deserving of the honor.

“When he was young, he wasn’t the best pitcher in town, but to see him put in the work, do the details and buy into what we do is what coaching is all about,” Branch said. “He always did what was required and then more. That is his mentality.

“Trevor would be outstanding in life without baseball.”

Booton and Branch’s relationship goes back well before the former was a ball player for LaGrange High. The two began working together when Booton was nine years old and Branch was retired from coaching baseball at LaGrange High.

“Coach Branch has been my coach forever, so with this being the last award we’ll win together is pretty special,” Booton said. “I wouldn’t be here without him, there’s no doubt about that.”

Their paths were intertwined from there, and Branch eventually returned to the dugout for the Grangers right around the time Booton was ready to make the jump to high school. 

Even though Booton has graduated and now attends Auburn University on a baseball scholarship, the two are still as close as ever.

“When I called him after he shot me the text, we ended up talking about pitching and how I’m doing here,” Booton said. “He was bouncing some ideas off of me. I don’t think him coaching me will ever stop.”

Branch, who recorded his 600th win early last season, will be back for another go with the Grangers in 2024. Booton will not, but his legacy and impact will reverberate through Granger baseball for years to come.

“His impact will go beyond his tenure here,” Branch said. “I believe he was so good at what he did within the team that he showed the way for the next group.”

The two will officially receive their awards at a ceremony at Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel during the Georgia Dugout coaches clinic on Dec. 8.