Morristown West and Morristown East have played baseball against one another every year for over 40 years.
And, despite the strange time, 2020 was no exception.
On Friday night, the seniors of both teams took the field at Trojan Park to take part in “one final game,” a home run derby where each player saw 15 pitches. While Morristown West technically took home the title with one home run, no score was actually kept, and the contest didn’t have the normal intensity to it that a West-East game would have.
Instead, it was a time to have one last special moment between the 13 seniors that were recognized.
“I am grateful,” Morristown West’s Tanner Beaver said. “I thought I would never be able to come out on this field again and do anything. I am just appreciative that I can come out here one more time with my class and just hit a few balls and get a plaque.”
Since the student athletes weren’t able to wear their jerseys during the event due to TSSAA regulations, most had on the gear of the college they are planning to attend. And some went above and beyond, including Morristown East’s Austin Williams who showed up wearing a cowboy hat.
While some came close, no home runs were produced through the first 12 batters of the night. West’s Nate Watson, who is set to play baseball at Walters State next year, was the final batter of the evening and, on the 13th pitch, finally produced the lone homer of the night with a shot over the fence in center field.
For most of the players, this was not the first time they had picked up a bat since the cancellation of the spring season. The majority are on travel ball teams and eight of the players recognized are members of the Morristown Sandlot Baseball team participating in the East Tennessee High School Baseball League.
And, while it was an easy-going batting practice session, it was also a time for the players to continue to get back in the swing of things for the summer season.
“It felt good,” Morristown East’s Jacob Gossett said. “I had some good swings. I hadn’t really had a lot of batting practice in a long time and it’s kind of been showing because I have been playing some travel ball but haven’t been hitting well. So, it’s good to get out here and get some batting practice.”
After the conclusion of the event, the players were able to put their jerseys back on and were recognized on the field like a normal senior night.
“It’s great to be able to recognize them one more time,” Morristown East coach Matt Ford said. “I hate that these guys lost their senior year. I can’t imagine how they must feel as a player having to go through that. I am glad that we were able to do one last thing for them before they move on. They have been great to coach for the last two year. I think they have set the bar high for our program. I look forward to seeing them do great things as they move forward with the rest of their lives.”
While the night was to honor the players, it was also exciting for both coaching staffs, getting to see their players one last time. For Morristown West coach Justin Pickett, it meant even more as this was the first senior class he has coached for all four seasons.
“This is big to be able to get with these guys again after everything we have gone through,” Pickett said. “With everything going on because of COVID and stuff, it’s been really hard. It’s been hard on them, but today has been a great day getting to hang with them and watch them get on the field and have fun with each other as teammates.
“To finish it off with the ceremony and giving them their gifts, it means a lot. I was excited to come out today because these guys mean a lot to me. We have been through a lot. I look forward to seeing what they do in the future. They have great futures ahead of them.”
Morristown East Seniors: Esten Devault, Jacob Gossett, Joey Johnson, Brycen Kelley, Adam Webb, Austin Williams and Cade Green
Morristown West Seniors: Tanner Beaver, Noah Bowers, Kyle Lewis, Camden Lovin, Kobe Miller, Marshall Smith, Nate Watson and Carson Barry