‘Playing a game we love’: Miners excited, grateful to be back on diamond after lost 2020 season
Longtime Nevada Union baseball head coach Ted White said there’s something a little different about this year’s group of Miners compared to others.
“I’ve never seen kids so excited to come to practice,” he said with a smile.
It was a little more than a year ago when all high school sports were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, ending Nevada Union High School’s baseball campaign just a few games into its season.
“It was tough,” said NU pitcher Matt Deschaine, who was a junior on last year’s team. “We had a great squad and were looking forward to going back to the playoffs. It was unfortunate. Some of us missed out on a crucial season of high school baseball. But, it’s great to be back out here again, and we’re very grateful to be able to play again.”
A deeper appreciation for the game is something White said many on the team, including himself, are feeling.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and to not have baseball was pretty devastating to me,” he said. “Even though I’ve always appreciated what I’ve had here, I appreciate it more because it was gone. And I know the kids feel the same way.”
Nevada Union senior catcher Kolby Amaral said the this season is about having fun on the field and helping bring along the younger players on the team.
“Were super excited just to be out here with our buddies,” he said. “Super excited to not only be playing, but playing alongside each other. We got a really good group of young guys coming out and we’re excited to help anyway we can. We have a really good squad this year, we’re looking forward to it.”
The Miners’ roster is a relatively small one of around 15 players, including several freshmen and sophomores.
“We are very, very young,” said White. “But, they’re all going to play and my group of seniors have been unbelievable with them, showing them the ropes, how to practice up here and how to play up here. That’s been huge. … These guys are the hardest workers. They’re showing by example, which has been awesome.”
In addition to Deschaine and Amaral, the Miners have senior leaders in Patrick Farrell, Derek Hicks and J.T. Conway.
“Our seniors definitely have taken on a leadership role and are working with the future of the program, and making it the best it can be,” said Farrell “As a team, I like our attitude this year. We all want to get better, get better as a group and do the best we can.”
The Miners have a 24-game schedule this season, facing off against teams from Nevada County as well as teams from adjacent counties, per state COVID-safety guidelines.
Official games are scheduled to start next week with a bout against Western Sierra on Wednesday, and another versus Colfax on Thursday.
“We’re just excited to be out on the fields,” said Amaral. “I don’t think any of us are worried about our win-loss record this year, we’re more focused on having a fun season. That’s what it’s about. We’re making the most of it, any way we can.”
One of the more intriguing match-ups this season is a three-game series against Bear River in early May. The two schools have never played an official game, many of the players know each other, and the Bruins are led by first-year head coach Russell Brackett, a former player and coach for Nevada Union.
“I think our guys are excited about that one,” said White. “It’ll be a really fun situation.”
The schedule may be a bit unusual and teams won’t be battling for a trip to the postseason, as there are no playoffs this season, but all that isn’t what’s important, said Deschaine.
“It’s important just to be out here and have that friendship, that bonding time,” he said. “And, to have fun playing a game we love.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com.
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