ELLSWORTH — Nearly two months after their last home game, members of the 2019 Ellsworth baseball team are still buzzing with excitement.
Many summer evenings have come and gone since June 8, the last time the Eagles played on their home field. The celebratory scenes that followed Ellsworth’s 6-0 win over Medomak Valley in the Class B North semifinals that day included high-fives, yells and chest-bumps, a worthy sendoff for an Ellsworth team that would go on to win regional and state titles.
As is the case with almost every run to a championship win, Ellsworth’s regional and state title triumphs didn’t come without pressure-filled moments for players, coaches and fans. Returning to their home field Thursday, though, the Eagles were carefree as could be throughout an evening filled with gifts, delicious food, pick-up whiffle ball, shiny trophies and championship memories.
The Ellsworth baseball community came together Thursday to take part in a end-of-season celebration at Ellsworth High School. The evening recognized the accomplishments of the team that won the school’s first state title in 31 years.
“You worked really hard for something, and you did it together,” Ellsworth head coach Dan Curtis said of his team in front of the players and the 40-plus others in attendance. “What you for the community is more important than what you’ve done on the baseball field.”
As part of the festivities, volunteers lined the chain-link fence and sides of Ellsworth’s home dugout with balloons and streamers. The Eagles’ on-deck circle became a grilling station as assistant coach Mike Clough served up hamburgers and red dogs.
In the dugout, Ellsworth’s conference, regional and state championship trophies were on display along with pictures taken throughout the season. There were also prizes for the players, who received replica Gold Gloves, personalized scorebooks, jackets, sweatshirts and varsity letters courtesy of local businesses and family donors.
“The city has gone all out for these boys and this team,” assistant coach Todd Wagstaff said. “Everybody is still buzzing about this.”
In all, 12 local businesses and five families donated a total of $3,400 toward Ellsworth High School’s booster club. That money also went toward state championship rings, for which players were fitted at the ceremony.
Unbeknownst to Curtis, Clough and Wagstaff, the Ellsworth players had their own gifts for their three coaches. After Curtis spoke about each player individually, senior Conner Wagstaff presented each of the team’s three coaches with bats signed by each member of the Eagles’ 17-man roster.
“These three men have helped us become the men we are,” Conner Wagstaff said. “I wouldn’t want to have played for any other coaching staff.”
Following 30 minutes of speeches, coaches and players congregated behind home plate for one last team photo. As the player showed off their replica trophies, Clough and Todd Wagstaff displayed the regional and state plaques as Curtis held up the Gold Glove.
As for the Eagles’ future prospects, the team will have fresh faces next season as seniors Conner Wagstaff, Matt Burnett, Devin Grindle, Riley Grindle, Charlie Hughes and Tyler Mitchell depart. Yet Curtis emphasized that Ellsworth, which has made incremental improvements with each passing season to reach a championship level, will be reloading rather than rebuilding.
“We have the talent to do great things next year and the year after and the year after,” Curtis said. “Don’t let this be a one-time thing.”
This event, though, was about celebrating, not looking ahead. There will be plenty of time to prepare for next year in the months to come, but the Ellsworth baseball community won’t soon forget this one.
“You guys will be forever linked for what you did on this team at Ellsworth High School,” Curtis said. “This team, after winning something like this, you’ll all be bonded forever. That’s the truth.”