Northgate Seniors Enter Final Season

Robyn Clarke, Staff Writer

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Senior year is filled with lasts– the last first day of school, the last football game, the last homecoming pep rally. For the nine seniors on Northgate’s baseball team, this is the last time they’ll suit up in a Northgate uniform and play alongside one another.

Connor Fortner doesn’t plan to waste the opportunity. “I just [want to] make this ride count,” he says.

For shortstop Will Queen, this season is bittersweet. “I’m excited to see what the season [holds] and happy to finally be the seniors this year, but I’m [sad] knowing this is the last time I get to wear the jersey with my best friends… some of them I’ve played with since I was eight,” he explains.

According to Queen, being a part of Northgate baseball is about more than winning games. “It’s taught me a lot about being a good person on and off the field, and no matter how the other team’s acting, to not stoop down to their level,” he says.

Designated hitter Will Horne says he’s learned something similar. “[Being on the baseball team] taught me to… be nice to everyone, always have good manners, always say hey to everyone [and] be a nice kid,” he says.

Coach Todd Herrington took over the program in 2016, and under his leadership, Northgate has continued their winning tradition. Discipline and sportsmanship was re-emphasized, and success followed: the team won region in Herrington’s first year, and they’re looking to bring that title home again this season. Horne describes Northgate’s head coach as a “role model,” saying, “He’s taught me about character [and] always believing in yourself… [We’ve learned to] always be a family and always be there for everyone on [the] team cause they’re [going to] be there for you.”

The word “family” often arises amongst Northgate’s seniors. Right fielder Noah Aaron says the familial feeling is even more noticeable this season. “Especially this year, it’s a real tight-knit group of guys… this year, it’s definitely one big group of brothers, and… being a part of that family is probably what I like most about it,” he explains.

What’s the most memorable moment of Aaron’s high school career? For him, the answer was easy: junior year, when he pinch-hit home runs in back to back games. “We were down by a few runs, and no one was really hitting the ball that well. He just kinda threw me in hoping I would do something, and I hit a big pinch-hit two home run,” he says, adding that it will stick out in his mind for awhile.

Pitcher Alex Cawood’s favorite memory happened freshman year. “…In our first JV game,… Will Horne hit a home run and didn’t step on the plate so they called him out,” he recalls, and adds that since then, he’s grown monumentally, both on and off the field. The skills and lessons he’s learned  paid off when he earned a scholarship to pitch at South Carolina-Sumter.

Cawood exemplifies what Coach Herrington wants each of these players to take from Northgate baseball: lessons and knowledge that will enable them to be successful beyond high school.

“It is my hope that these young men learn about life through the game of baseball,” Herrington explains. “Since baseball is ‘a game of failure,’ players have to learn how to overcome failure, disappointment, and adversity. In our lives, we will all face failures, disappointments, adversity, etc. The success of a baseball player and a person is determined by how those adverse situations are overcome. I hope that, through the game of baseball, these players learn how to rise above adversity and be determined to succeed. Most of all, it is my wish that they grow up to be great citizens, husbands, fathers, and leaders in their communities.”

They’ve already shown they can lead. Northgate is currently 13-2, something Herrington attributes to the examples set by the seniors. “They… are determined to succeed. They are playing with an attitude of refusing to lose,” he says.

Herrington also praises his players for their strong work ethic. “This senior class has improved tremendously since their Sophomore season, which is the first year I became head coach. They have worked very hard in the off season in the weight room and refining their skills. But, most of all, I have seen them grow into very fine young men who will make great husbands and fathers one day,” he says.

Their dedication to the sport is evident. Over the last three years, the senior class has amassed forty-nine wins, and reached the playoffs each time. They’re seeking their second region title in three years, and have aspirations for a run at a state championship. “I want to leave behind at least a region championship… and hopefully a nice run in the state playoffs. I want at least an Elite Eight appearance,” says Queen.

They want the younger players to know that success is simply a part of Northgate baseball. “I want to leave a legacy that the Northgate baseball program is a winning program and should always be held to a high standard,” Jack Eskew says, a sentiment echoed by Connor Fortner, Donovan Devanne, and Corbitt Cimadevilla.

One thing is certain: the seniors on Northgate’s baseball team have left an imprint on Viking baseball. Not only have they had incredible accomplishments on the field, but they’ve made an impact off the field as well, by taking the knowledge they’ve gained and using it to  positively influence those around them. They’ve made their mark, and regardless of how the season turns out, the players in the Class of 2018 will be remembered long after they graduate.

 

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