The moment tugged at the hearts, a senior outfielder and the coach he played for.
The season had just ended for the Highland baseball team in New London, a 9-3 loss in the semifinals of the Class 1A District 8 Tournament.
Bill Laughlin, a senior who had hit a team-leading .404 this season, noticed head coach Seth Milledge standing by the team bus and hugged him.
“Thanks, coach,” he said.
The Huskies finished the season with an 8-7 record, defeating Lisbon on the way to the second round of the district tournament. Laughlin and senior pitcher Carl Yeggy were named to the All-District Team, Laughlin as a First Teamer. But this was a season that almost didn’t happen due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was great to have a chance to play, given the situation with the pandemic,” Milledge said. “We had a good group of young men to work with. It was a pleasure coaching them.”
Laughlin had a team-leading 19 hits, including a home run. He drove in 13 runs and scored 12 runs.
Yeggy started five games and wound up with a 2-2 record. He struck out 37 in 27 innings pitched and had a 2.05 ERA, leading a staff of promising pitchers that included Chase Schultz, a sophomore who struck out 27 in 26 innings and had a team-best three wins.
Joining Laughlin, Yeggy and Schultz on the All-Conference First Team was sophomore catcher Trevor McFarland, who hit .375. Making the Second Team were Luke Miller and Connor Grinstead. Grant Colbert and Mason McFarland were Honorable Mention.
The Huskies lose Laughlin, Yeggy, Mason McFarland and Colbert to graduation, but will return a lineup packed with rising sophomores and juniors.
“We lose four seniors, but we return a lot of talent next year,” Milledge said. “Our hope as a coaching staff is that our guys compete throughout the year in different sports and keep developing their skills for baseball.”
The Huskies had seven regular players hit .300 or better. An eighth, sophomore Brenton Bonebrake, had three hits in five at-bats for a .600 average.
Highland won three of its first four games, losing only to Hillcrest Academy.