By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports Sports
Historic Paul Richards Park recently served as the final and unfortunate curtain call for 10 Waxahachie Indian baseball seniors.
The senior night ceremony, held Friday, June 12, afforded the student-athletes and their families to bid farewell to a high school career cut short by COVID-19. It also allowed for several dozen family members and community supporters to honor the efforts of the Class of 2020.
“This is the closest thing to closure that we can get,” said first baseman DJ Hollywood from near the Indians’ bullpen. “When we walked off the field after playing Temple in that last tournament, we thought we’d have a game the next day. We had no idea that that was it. I really appreciate the RBI Club for putting this together so that we can all see each other again. I’m really appreciative of that, and I am so thankful to have been a part of such a great program.”
Hollywood noted that being back on the field brought back “a lot of great memories,” filled with walk-off wins, big hits, outstanding performances and, most importantly, brotherhood. Hollywood, the son of Amy Borders and Hank Hollywood, will soon enroll in the DeSoto Firefighter Academy.
The senior first-bagger and his nine teammates then walked from the home bullpen to the infield grass where they were seated with their parents, giving way to Waxahachie head baseball coach Tracy Wood.
“Every year, this is a sad time unless you are the one team to win the state championship,” said Wood to the 10 groups of three scattered across the diamond while some 24 people sat socially distanced in the bleachers and another nine stood scattered down the baselines. “But this year is especially hard. Who knew that when we played at Arlington Heights and we got on that bus ride that it would be the last bus ride that we would take? Nobody knew. And, for some of these guys, it was the last bus ride of their career, which is very sad.
“But I tell the seniors every year, that while this is an end to this, it is just the beginning of your future. You all have a very bright future. I am looking at 10 very capable men right here who are going to go on to do great things. I have no doubt.”
Wood then ribbed the boys a bit, noting that — even if some might be a little smarter or “better looking” than others — they’d all go on to do great things. Unless, of course, they plan to attend Texas A&M University, drawing a laugh from the group — even Colten Lee, who will major in mechanical engineering in College Station.
In addition to Lee and Hollywood, the 2020 Indian baseball senior class also included Aaron Tesei, Blaize Blaylock, BG Winn, Campbell Sullivan, Jacob Moran, Elijah Martinez, Erik Jendrzey and Josh Gates.
Lee and the others presented their mother with a rose and father with a team-signed baseball. They also pocketed a clear jar of infield dirt, a tradition that began 14 years ago, and received a set of custom cornhole boards donning the traditional “W” script.
The Indians’ skipper concluded the evening by assuring the Indian baseball Class of 2020 will “never be forgotten.”
“There are always lessons to learn,” he explained, “and the lesson from this class is to never assume, appreciate the things that you have and never take anything for granted. Those lessons are going to be told to the classes coming behind you guys. I already know in the offseason, I’ll be telling them that ‘I don’t want to hear any crying about having to run a quarter, just ask those seniors last year.’ We are going to use this class for a long time, I promise you that.”
All photos by Fred Phipps/Ellis County Sports Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith