GUYTON — The South Effingham baseball team was on the brink of having a dream season before COVID-19 brought an end to it April 2.
The Mustangs were 10-3 when the GHSA pulled the plug on all athletic activities following a decision by Gov. Brian Kemp to close public schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 year because of the pandemic.
South Effingham head coach Todd Eubanks had a good feeling about this year’s bunch prior to the season and his intuition was spot on. The Mustangs won seven straight at one point.
“It’s exciting because I told people during the offseason that I felt like we were going to be better than we were before even though we were going to be much younger,” he said. “It was exciting to see it come together.”
Given the team’s success, Eubanks is confident it will return next season just as strong. He added, however, that he can’t predict how this year’s team would have finished this year..
“Our kids worked hard during the summer and offseason,” Eubanks said. “They got to see that hard work does pay off. I don’t know if we would have won (Region 2-AAAAA). I don’t know if we would have made a deep run into the state playoffs but it would have been nice to see what we could have done.
“We are excited about what the future holds. They’ve got to remember what got them to where we are this year. The future can be nice. We can have some good things happen for us.”
Eubanks has stayed occupied during the break by maintaining the field at The Corral. He is also keeping in touch with his players.
“We are doing fine,” he said. “We are adapting and I’ve been able to cut the grass, and keep the field clean and stay busy that way. I’ve been able to send messages and talk to the kids through text.”
Hunter Morgan, Bryce Ogle and Gabe Radcliffe are three players who won’t get to represent the Mustangs on the field again. Eubanks said they played a pivotal role in what the team accomplished this year.
“I appreciate their dedication to what we tried to come in and build here,” he said. “They started their career with Coach (Johnny) Dering and the last two years were with my staff and myself. They adapted. We made some changes. We were able to turn things around pretty quickly and they were part of it.”
It will be nearly a year before the team sees regular season play again in Region 2-AAAAAA. In the meantime, Eubanks expects the Mustangs to continue sharpening their skills and hopes they can take the field in the summer months.
“They’ve got to be able to do the basics,” said Eubanks. “They have to do some throwing and hitting on their own. If we are fortunate enough to get back together this summer, we will play some summer ball.”