BUSSEY — Monday, June 10. That was a good day for the Twin Cedars baseball family. One that stuck with them even as they took the field for the program’s second-ever state baseball tournament contest.
The Sabers took the field at Principal Park in Des Moines for the Class 1A State Quarterfinals against three-time state champion Martensdale-St. Mary’s facing the daunting task of trying to be the first team since 2009 to beat the Blue Devils in postseason play. Perhaps it might have been too daunting for the Sabers with so many players making their state tournament debuts on that night. That is, if it hadn’t been for Monday, June 10, and the Sabers 5-4 regular-season victory over Martensdale-St. Mary’s on that particular night.
“We played them in the regular season and we knew we could beat them,” sophomore Otis Roby said after pitching all nine innings of the Sabers’ landmark 4-1 state tournament win that ended the Blue Devils’ bid for a fourth-straight state title. “We had the confidence if we played our game that we could win because we did it once. We knew we could do it again.”
It’s an amazing thing to know the power the game of baseball can have on a group of young men. While Monday, June 10, provided the Sabers a chance to overcome a great challenge on the field, the following day would challenge the team and the entire community that supports them in totally unimaginable way.
On Tuesday, June 11, less than 24 hours after participating in one of the Sabers’ biggest wins of the season, Derek Springer would be the team and the community’s biggest loss. The 18-year-old junior was involved in a major car crash near Pella, causing severe head trauma that ultimately cost Springer his life just five days later.