The Marjory Stoneman Douglas baseball team took home another state title, the Eagles’ third straight, which is an incredible accomplishment in any part of the U.S., but more so when considering the stacked lineups they face in a highly competitive South Florida area.
In the time it took to read that sentence, however, some—if not all—most likely lost the magnitude of the accomplishment because their mind echoed something along the lines of “Parkland shooting.”
There’s something off-putting about even bringing up such a tragedy and allowing it to share the national spotlight with a championship run that included an undefeated season, a first since 2017 in the Sunshine State and a first in South Florida history. Yes, history.
But not to mention what took place back on February 18, 2018, where 17 people were murdered at the hands of a gunman, ignores the larger storyline: Freshman, seniors and everyone in between on the Eagles 2023 roster and in the Parkland community are only five years removed from the deadliest mass shooting at a high school ever—a stat that now exists and runs on the tickers of media outlets in a commonplace manner like it’s part of the latest NYSE.
“No one here really brings it up,” pitcher Christian Rodriguez told the Athletic’s Manny Navarro about that Valentine’s Day in 2018. “It’s just kind of something that lingers.”
To applaud the strength it would take to recover from an event like that—which now lives in the subconscious of the masses as a reminder of the horrors students face daily—is something that should bring everyone to their feet. A standing-O.
Then, another standing-O…
And so on.
And while the inspiring tale would be perfectly acceptable had the final chapter quietly ended with a learning lesson about progressions and just putting on the cleats and giving it your all in between the lines, the Eagles baseball team hasn’t just shown up to the ballpark; they’ve dismantled teams over the past few years, compiling an 87-5 record, including 51 straight wins.
They’ve ended the year as the No. 1 team the country and as national champs during that span.
In 2023, the Eagles hit 35 home runs. That’s two more runs than the pitching staff surrendered all year (33). Comebacks? They didn’t trail past the third inning in any game this season.
And when it came time to close out this current run, the team delivered, picking up that third state title.
Impressive? Perhaps just a case of having top-tier talent?
As Ted Williams famously told The New York Times: “I’ve always said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.”
To excel at that while bringing inspiration and positivity to a community and beyond is harder.