Heavy rain turned into a light drizzle as Greenup County seniors Seth Boyle, Zach Hutchinson and Will McCall entered the press box, seemingly nervous for the Musketeers’ upcoming Senior Night festivities.
Boyle’s look, though, didn’t come from nervousness. No, he was just upset that Hutchinson didn’t bring him food — from Boyle’s own house.
“Before the game he went over to my house and started making sandwiches and didn’t even bring me one,” Boyle said. “That’s how close we are.”
Hutchinson chimed in simply with “They were good sandwiches, too,” as McCall laughed at the situation.
That’s the friendship that has grown over the years between the three pitchers that are atop the Greenup County rotation.
Their friendship extends past the idea of just being on a field together.
“We’re best buds,” Boyle said. “I call (Hutchinson’s) mom my mom, and he calls my mom his mom. We’re all real close and always will be.”
Maybe that’s what makes them such a joy for Greg Logan to coach. Logan, who has been Greenup County’s head baseball coach since 2006, beamed about the senior trio.
He doesn’t so much brag about their given ability as he does their ability to get the most out of themselves.
“They are a great student-athletes that love to play competitive sports,” Logan said. “You never have to worry about their character or their work ethic. Even if you’re playing them in Ping-Pong, chess, checkers or whatever, you’re going to find that nobody wants to lose.
“They’re just good students and athletes who are not afraid of hard work.”
To say it was a disappointing season last year would be an understatement to those in the Greenup County baseball program.
For the first time since 2006, and the first time under Logan, Greenup County missed the 16th Region Tournament.
“We’d won five district titles in a row and three regions in the first five years,” Logan said. “The expectations these kids have here is if we don’t have a regional title we’re not happy.”
“We walked into the first game of district last year against Lewis County, and nobody was focused,” Hutchinson said. “It’s Greenup County baseball, you don’t think you’re going to lose the first game of districts.
“This year is totally different — we’re more focused and motivated.”
So far this season, Greenup County has hovered among the top of the standings in the 16th Region and only three losses have come against region opponents.
Logan isn’t surprised that McCall, Boyle and Hutchinson are the ones leading the rebound effort.
One story Logan likes to tell comes from the 2011 season, after the Musketeers were bounced from the region tournament in the first round.
He remembers driving past Greenup County’s field the next day and seeing three players taking batting practice. They were McCall, Boyle and Hutchinson.
“It’s times like that you remember. We just lost a region game and three guys are out here on a 95-degree day,” Logan said. “That says a whole lot for them and for their work ethic. It will take them a long ways.”
That work ethic took McCall and Boyle to a new place over the past couple years.
Running with purpose
Going into the fall, Greenup County soccer coach Andy Zabrieszack knew he was going to be running short on players. But luckily he had a secret weapon — four-year player Hutchinson and his “recruiting prowess” among his friends.
“We all knew that we were going to be short of players so I sent Zach out for recruiting,” Zabrieszack said. “Seth was easy because he wanted to play and be a a part of it. With Will, we worked him like a puppet.”
Boyle, who started playing his junior year, was eager to come back. McCall, on the other hand, needed a bit more convincing.
“I never kicked a soccer ball before in my life,” McCall admitted. “I went out there, and Zabrieszack said we needed a goalie. I went out there and did my thing and it came easy to me. I never thought it would come easy for me.”
Behind McCall’s surprising strength in the net, Greenup County won its first region title in program history. For McCall, it was the first time contributing to a team’s postseason success.
“It’s the first thing I’ve ever done,” McCall said. “The last time the baseball team went to State I broke my collarbone, so I wasn’t able to go. It’s the biggest win or accomplishment I had in sports.”
Zabrieszack, or “Papa Z” as the players affectionately call him, knew adding Boyle and McCall would be big for the program. But he never expected them to help take them to a region crown.
With McCall tending the goal, Hutchinson on defense and Boyle on offense, Zabrieszack had a pretty good trifecta on the field.
“They were so amazing,” Zabrieszack said. “Will was our man ... he had over 200 saves and it was insane. Zach was like having a coach on the field and I don’t think I’ll ever have that again. And Seth is such a motivator, he works so hard and he’s found a new level of competition.”
While Hutchinson had played soccer for most of his life, Boyle and McCall had been focused on just baseball. When Zabrieszack took over the soccer team before the 2012 season, he approached Logan about maybe getting some of his athletes on a different field.
Logan was happy to oblige and ended up giving his team one ultimatum about their fall schedule — either play baseball or be on the soccer field.
“We’ve entertained these kids playing other sports, and we felt like soccer was one of the best sports they could play here,” Logan said.
“You watch those three guys, they dominated in that sport as well,” added the baseball coach. “That’s been a joy to watch them.”
Through the conditioning from soccer in the fall, baseball players are showing up in better shape in the spring.
“Without baseball and Greg Logan, their would be no soccer team,” said Papa Z, who is at every Greenup County baseball game supporting Logan and the team. “The payoff is — and there is a payoff — these guys are horses when they come out in the spring. There is no other sport you can get them in shape like soccer.
“This is a secret we’re letting out,” he continued. “Once these other coaches figure it out, you watch if soccer will be loaded up with athletes.”
While many of the baseball players pull double-duty with soccer, most take the winter to work on conditioning and get ready for the long grind in the spring.
But Boyle decided to be different and do something he hadn’t done since his freshman year — go out for the basketball team.
“A few of my friends wanted me to play and they didn’t have depth,” Boyle said. “They didn’t have much experience so I thought I would come out and play and have some fun.”
When the Musketeers were at full strength, Boyle was usually the first player off the bench for the Musketeers. With injuries, however, Boyle sometimes found himself in the Musketeers’ starting lineup.
He still found himself at the mercy of his friends.
“He might have led the team in turnovers,” Hutchinson joked. “He came to me after every game and said, ‘What am I doing wrong, Zach?’”
McCall, Boyle and Hutchinson will all three move on to college baseball. McCall is heading to Berea while Hutchinson and Boyle are on their way to Campbellsville.
But the thing most people don’t know is they could go to almost any school they want. McCall (27), Hutchinson (26) and Boyle (24) all received high ACT scores.
For Logan, the mixture of success and hard work in both sports and in the class room has propelled them to this point.
“You put those three guys out there, they’re the three best Musketeers we could ask for,” Logan said. “I think the character they have had for four years have led them to this.”
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.