Coming Back From COVID-19: Macks Creek baseball seeking continued growth in return to action

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Macks Creek’s Grant English (left) and Tanner Smith (right).

The “Coming Back From COVID-19” series will focus on spring sports programs at Camdenton, Osage, Eldon, Versailles, Macks Creek and Climax Springs who saw their seasons stripped away due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. The series will highlight how these programs handled those tough times and their return to action.

After spring baseball was cancelled in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, some teams have waited two full years to finally start playing some competitive baseball once again. Fortunately for Macks Creek, that wait only lasted until the fall. 

For the first time in program history, Macks Creek was out for some fall baseball and good thing, too, because there were some new players who took advantage of that experience as the Pirates looked to do some rebuilding following a 12-7 finish and district championship appearance in 2019. There is no postseason in the fall, but it presented an early opportunity to get started down that path.

“Being fortunate to play a fall season, we have already had a chance to get ‘battle-tested.’ We managed to get in 14 games after losing last spring,” said Macks Creek coach Jason Trusty who has led the program for over a decade. “As a unit, we were able to work on some of the things I normally try to cram into the first week of spring practice and we were able to see improvement through the fall season. My boys really enjoyed it and it gave us a chance to learn to work together.” 

Trusty said he is looking for his seniors to lead the way and there are six of them who will be relied upon as the pandemic quickly turned these sophomores into veterans after the loss of their junior seasons. Among them are Grant English (All-Conference Honorable Mention, First Team All-District and All-State Honorable Mention), Trever Smith (All-Conference Honorable Mention and All-District Honorable Mention and Tanner Smith. 

“We have some great senior leadership and I’m hoping they will continue to grow in that department and that we come together at the right time,” Trusty said of the unit. 

They will have some big shoes to fill as the Pirates lost some talent in Hunter Lane, Cole Register and Colton Walter who unfortunately never got to see their senior seasons. 

“We did try and get something put together for the summer, but we weren’t able to pull it off,” Trusty recalled. “I think the hardest lesson we learned at that time was to really enjoy each moment because it goes quick. The team last year lost a chance to play one more season together and seniors lost a chance to finish their high school baseball careers.” 

The fall season should aid Macks Creek moving forward in terms of experience and even though it was a tough start with a 1-13 finish in the fall, Trusty saw the building blocks start to form as the Pirates captured a win in their fall finale.

“We had a lot of guys that got their first taste of varsity experience. We had a tough introduction, but these boys really worked hard and we saw improvement with each game,” the coach noted. “We are all excited to get back out on the diamond and continue to build moving forward.” 

As is the case with any program, Trusty said minimizing errors on the defensive end and putting the ball in play more often offensively should aid the effort and each night on the diamond is an opportunity.

“I challenged the boy to push each other and themselves and see where we went from there,” the coach said, looking back to last fall. “Our pitching staff is bolstered by two seniors, but after that we are working to really build that up through our younger guys.” 

Time will soon tell how it all unfolds for the Pirates in 2021. 

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132