After missing out on the 2020 spring season as a result of the global coronavirus outbreak, six seniors in the Bryan baseball program had one last chance to take Sumpter Field on Sunday for a senior day ceremony and an intrasquad scrimmage.
The team had big goals heading into the year. Coming off of back-to-back ACME State Championships with a veteran group that had done a lot of winning throughout the years, the Bears were poised and excited to cap their careers and go out on top.
But with the season wiped clean, it meant the careers of six seniors — Preston Ankney, Connor Arthur, Nate Miller, Logan Clemens, Brooks Brown and Dom James — were over.
The state’s restrictions in sports and gatherings eventually loosened up, though, and after a slate of games for the team’s underclassmen this summer, the Bryan baseball program added one more game to the end of its schedule to send the seniors out the right way.
The atmosphere of Sunday’s game was laid back, but competitive at the same time, and the seniors — many of whom have been grouped together on the same team since they were as young as 7 years old — couldn’t help but smile as they played together for the final time on Sunday.
“It’s been really cool getting to play with everyone since we were 7, growing up together and maturing as baseball players” Arthur said. “We’re all best friends and it’s been cool to win together, and we’ve had a lot of success, which makes it a lot of fun, too.”
Growing up with the tradition of Bryan baseball is a big part of the experience the group holds in high regard, too.
“For me, it’s just been fun playing for Bryan,” Brown said. “I grew up here my whole life. My dad grew up here and played baseball here, so it’s always kind of been a dream of mine to play high school here just like my dad. But it’s been fun with all these guys growing up with them.”
“And it’s been great making memories with all of these fellow seniors,” James added. “Just the class we have and the camaraderie we have, I love the great times we’ve had together.”
Bryan baseball coach Jeff Inselmann said he’ll miss having the 2020 graduates around the program next year. After all, he’s known many of them from the time they were young, and he appreciates everything they’ve done for Bryan baseball.
“I love these guys,” said Inselmann, who said he was just as crushed as his players that they couldn’t play out their senior season. “They work hard, they’re dedicated and they’ve been very successful in other sports, but they’ve also set the standard for youth development, because they won a ton of games throughout little league and beyond, so they paved the way for future Golden Bears.
“We had high goals (this year). We expected to win a league championship, get back to districts and thought we had a chance at regionals. … I feel for them, but it’s unprecedented. … No words I can say to them are going to fix it, but they’ve handled it with class and maturity, and that’s what they are.”
Bryan baseball’s six seniors
Future plans: Study engineering at The Ohio State University
Future plans: Play football and study business and sports management at Trine University
Position: Third base, Pitcher
Future plans: Undecided
Future plans: Play baseball and study civil engineering at Trine University
Position: Pitcher, First Base
Future plans: Play baseball and study business at Adrian College
Position: Outfield, Pitcher
Future plans: Study neuroscience at The Ohio State University