Recently, I was scrolling through the Sunday Dispatch archives working on my weekly “Upon Further Review” series and I came across a story from May 30, 2007 that hit close to home.
It was about Old Forge facing off against Northwest, my alma mater, in the final game for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 2 Class A baseball championship.
It was the Northwest Area baseball team’s first shot at a district title in school history, and I was the starting third baseman (hence the name of this column).
Kyle McMyne was the starting pitcher for Old Forge. We were pleased to score six runs off him, as the righty went on to play his college baseball at Villanova University and currently plays professionally for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Last year, he was named Southern League Relief Pitcher of the Month of May.
Unfortunately for us Rangers, the Blue Devils leveled us, 19-6. We went home with district hardware, but just a silver.
This past week, the Northwest boys won the school’s first district baseball title with a win over Hanover Area — congratulations to my alma mater!
Later in the week, Pittston Area’s softball team played for its first district championship in softball. The Patriots came out on the losing end, and it was a difficult time for the graduating seniors.
Looking back, it’s not the fact that we won or lost to one of the best teams in the state. It’s about the fact that we got there. Yes, at the time we were a little depressed that we wouldn’t have a state playoff game. Most of us were seniors, so we didn’t get another chance. But now I’m happy I got to be a part of the district title.
As each season passes, more and more Greater Pittston athletes are appearing in district championships — everything from track and field to softball. Many times those athletes are underclassmen. So as each season rolls on, that hunger to get back there will begin to take over.
Many of the Pittston Area softball players are underclassmen, including several starters. They know they wouldn’t have got there without the seniors, but it’s up to the underclassmen to get back there. PA freshmen such as Lexi Felinski and Alexa McHugh, I’m sure, will make another run at a district championship.
In 2007, seven of our nine starters were seniors. No one thought Northwest would return to the title game the next season, but the 2008 team returned. That just goes to show if there is a hunger, and a focus to get back there, anything is possible.
There’s no better feeling than reaching any type of championship game, but you don’t just wake up in the finals. It’s the 364 days outside of a championship game that mean the most. And once you get there, you’ll want to always make a point to get back there.
And if you lose a district title, when your athletic director or coach is putting that second- or third-place medal around your neck, smile. You got there. Don’t forget what it feels like.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick