Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
MINFORD — If you ask any of Minford’s four baseball seniors what the favorite moment of their career has been, you’re likely to get the same answer.
Huntington Park. State Tournament.
If you had been able to play in that game, you’d probably spit out that answer, too.
This year’s seniors — Nathan McCormick, Bailey Rowe, Brayden Davis and E.J. Porter — were sophomores then. Three of those four started in that game.
It was, of course, a Division III state semifinal on May 31, 2018 that marked the school’s first-ever trip to the state tournament.
“We had just come off an SOC title and that was step one of a five-step process,” McCormick said. “Then, we won sectional and district championships. We got to experience playing at Ohio State and winning a regional championship. The state semifinal was something special. We may have come up short, but the weekend we got to spend up there bonded us as a team for the next year. That trip, our whole team really became a family. That’s where we developed a brotherhood that will last a lifetime.”
Since then, the Falcons have only added to their trophy case.
Last season, Minford finished 29-2 and made another regional final before ultimately falling by a 4-3 final to Ridgewood in eight innings. That came after the Falcons won a share of the SOC II title, and claimed sectional and district titles — the group won their two district contests by a combined 22-2 margin.
In a word, Minford was dominant, and the Falcons didn’t have any plans of changing course.
That is, of course, until COVID-19 forced their hand and effectively ended McCormick, Rowe, Davis and Porter’s careers.
But the legacy that quartet leaves will always remain intact.
“The class of 2020 has left a great legacy for the school and for the community,” Rowe said. “In the past three years, we have brought this school and community closer to the sport of baseball by winning the first outright SOC championship in 50 years, the school’s first regional championship in school history, and the first trip to the state tournament that same year.”
Rowe’s reference to the first outright SOC championship circles the team’s league title in 2018 … which was Minford’s first outright crown since 1968 and one that held Wheelersburg without at least a share of the title for the first time since 2004.
“When I think of the senior class legacy, I think of the amount of success we’ve had,” McCormick said. “We have been a part of two conference titles, three sectional championships, a district runner-up finish, two district titles, a regional runner-up finish, a regional championship and a state semifinal appearance. We’re one of the winningest classes in Minford history.”
To be exact, this year’s senior class finished their careers at 70-9.
It wasn’t by choice and there were certainly more wins they wanted to add to that total. But to say that this year’s senior class’ resume speaks for itself is an understatement.
“The thing I’m most proud of in my baseball career is our team’s success. We changed the baseball culture at Minford,” McCormick said. “We’ve developed a ‘We before I’ mindset. We’ve also installed a feeling into the program that nothing is given and everything is earned.”
That mindset is the backbone of the legacy they leave and will continue to be at the center of Minford’s baseball future.
“My senior teammates are like brothers to me. From playing junior high ball with each other, we dreamed about stepping onto the big field together and making great memories through the game,” Rowe said. “I’ve played with some pretty amazing players in my high school career. We’ve all shared some amazing times together.”