When the calendar turns to March, anticipation for baseball players of all ages starts to reach a fever pitch.
Heading into the 2020 high school season, it might be said that the fever pitch for Greenbrier West senior Peyton Brown is the highest it has ever been during his baseball career.
After losing his junior season to an injury, Brown, like many athletes across the United States, is hoping his senior season is not erased because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"It is very frustrating. People tell you every year to cherish it, because it ends fast. It's hard to cherish it when it kinda gets ripped away from you like this," Brown admitted. "In my head, I keep telling myself, yes, we are going to play, because that is what I want to believe. I just have to hope and pray we do. It is my last (high school) season. If I can just play one last game, I will be happy."
The 2019 campaign started with great promise for Brown and the Cavaliers. After hitting over .400 his sophomore season and with the influx of a couple of solid freshmen, Brown had high hopes.
Those hopes took a massive jolt at Richwood when a shallow fly ball changed his season in a blink.
Racing for the ball from his second base position. and with the right fielder charging hard, the ensuing collision resulted in a compound fracture in Brown's leg, putting an end to his season in game three.
"I was going back for a fly ball and collided with another fielder," Brown explained "It was a pretty nasty break and a freak accident. It was just two kids hustling for the ball."
Brown got his love for baseball from a source common to most players — his dad. The elder Brown played college baseball at West Virginia State and, like many dads, put the baseball in his son's hands at a young age.
"I can't thank him enough. Baseball caught my eye from a young age and I love it," Brown said. "If it wasn't for him pushing me over the years and through my injury, I wouldn't be where I am today. Since I was 4 years old, baseball has been my favorite thing to play. It is a great atmosphere to be around and I love being with my team."
Although he was injured, Brown rarely missed a game and was awarded the Cavalier Pride Award by his coaches.
"Peyton is a baseball kid," Greenbrier West head coach Doug Nickell said. "There was a totally different feel on the team when Peyton was there versus when Peyton was not there."
"The young guys brought so much spirit to the game, it was great to watch. I wanted to help the team," Brown explained. "They are my teammates. I was at practice every day, trying to help everybody get better. The younger kids stepped up and showed great leadership. They kept grinding and made it to the sectional championship."
All things considered, Brown finds himself in a good place, even in the wake of possibly never playing another high school game. Earlier this year, Brown signed a letter-of-intent to play college baseball at Salem University.
"With my injury, and everything that has been going on, (Salem University head) coach (Addison) Rouse has been amazing," Brown said, with excitement in his voice." Coach Rouse and the coaching staff are great people. I loved the facilities and Salem is a small town, which fits me. Charmco is not a very big community, so (Salem) feels like home."
For now, Brown stays on the ready, just waiting for the words every baseball player wants to hear — play ball!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @Rusman1981