Gilman’s baseball team had high hopes for its season, which has been halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The team’s seven seniors were eager for their final season of high school baseball. For each of them, the past few weeks have been a trying time. Some prepared for a season to finish out their high school careers on a high note before playing in college. Others knew this would probably be the last time they put on a baseball uniform in competitive play. With a team that had high aspirations to avenge championship losses, this is a tough pill to swallow.
Those players are left-handed pitcher Danny Rosenfield, middle infielder Ryan Williamson, catcher Michael Mallas, left-handed pitcher Jackson Tacka, infielder/outfielder Jackson McCambridge, first baseman/outfielder/pitcher Tripp Myers and middle infielder Gabe Gonzales.
Rosenfield had extremely high hopes for the 2020 campaign. The team started 2-0 with a 3-2 win over St. John’s (D.C.) on March 11 and a 5-2 victory over Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association rival McDonogh the following day. The Greyhounds were supposed to continue their season the following week against teams from North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
But on March 13, the MIAA played its last game – St. Mary’s versus Severn – for the foreseeable future. It was all ripped away from them, and it still seems beyond belief.
“At this point, it doesn’t even feel real. I have still been practicing every day as if our season will start back up in three weeks from now,” Rosenfield said. “I don’t think the fact that I could’ve potentially played my final Gilman baseball game has really kicked in yet. It really sucks that at least three weeks of our season have been taken away. We’ve had some pretty talented Gilman baseball teams over the past few years, but I think that this team is on another level when it comes to focus and dedication to winning.
“That mainly stems from us being such a close-knit group. The thing that hurts most as a senior is potentially never being able to play baseball with these guys again. I know that a lot of great memories and fun times will be lost if our season gets called, which seems to be the unfortunate reality at this point.”
While the disappointment is vast, many players understand this situation is bigger than just them. It is a threat to public health — the lives of their friends, families, coaches and others could be affected.
However, it still hurts players such as Williamson, who is playing at St. Bonaventure next season and might not get a chance to create memories this year that could last a lifetime. The suspension of play affects not just the senior baseball players but all of the spring athletes of the 2020 class.
“I know that this pandemic shows that there are things way bigger than sports, but it’s just sad that my Gilman athletic career might come to an end because of this,” Williamson said. “As a team, we have prepared and put in countless hours over the past couple of months in order for us to be ready for the upcoming season and compete for an MIAA championship. With the season being suspended and the thought of it being canceled, it just hurts.”
Mallas, a Lafayette baseball commit, doesn’t feel as if hope is completely lost on the season. Though the team might have lost at least three weeks of the season, it is a possibility that they could return to play.
“As of now, I think all we can do is just sit back and see what happens in these next few weeks because it’s totally out of our control at this point,” Mallas said. “It’s pretty hard to think that this could be it for us seniors. However, with the season just being suspended at this point, we still have to keep our heads high and hope for the best.”
There is still a level of uncertainty for most players — even for their future schools. The Naval Academy, where Tacka will be headed to begin his college baseball career in the fall, sent all of its midshipmen home for the rest of the semester.
"It has been surreal. Just how fast everything has developed and how much it seems to change every day is a very new situation to go through,” Tacka said. “Most high school seniors at this time would be thinking about their next big game, but rather our team has been thinking if there will be a next game.”
Some players won’t be so lucky to resume their baseball careers.
McCambridge is heading to Wake Forest but probably won’t suit up again. He saw the team grow from a young and talented group to a seasoned and confident team. After seeing the team come up short in the championship game each of the past two seasons, he thought this squad could be the one to get over the hump.
“I know for myself and my fellow seniors it hurts even more knowing we may not have our last shot at going over the top to win the whole thing,” McCambridge said. “It’s a heartbreaking ending if this is the end of the line for my time at Gilman playing baseball, but I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys or coaches to spend my last three years (two seasons) playing besides.”
Myers developed a bond with his teammates since his freshman season on varsity. The future Johns Hopkins utility man has competed with much of the same group of seniors for the past few seasons and they are among some of his best friends. He’s neither pleased with the possibility of his season being lost, nor the fact that about 110 seniors from his class might not have a commencement ceremony.
One of his favorite memories during his time at Gilman was when the team bought a pineapple and smashed it during his sophomore year.
“We ended up making a pretty deep run, eventually losing to a very, very strong Curley team,” Myers said. “When we got back to school after losing to Curley that night, we smashed that pineapple with the sledgehammer and it went flying everywhere — it was a pretty good time.
“Even though we lost, we had realized that Curley team was legit and were super stoked when we thought about the talent [that] we would be bringing back the next two years. We brought back the pineapple for playoffs [the] next year and will probably bring it back again this year if we are lucky enough to get the chance to play again at all this year.”