FAYETTEVILLE — Monday’s 9-3 loss in the Sandhills Senior Showcase may not have been the perfect sendoff for the Robeson County senior baseball players, but for each of them, the final score wasn’t something to get caught up on.
“It was good. I loved it,” Nick Henderson, a Red Springs senior said. “I got to play in SwampDog Stadium. I got to play with a bunch of people around the county and other schools. It was good.”
Henderson, along with Chance Leggett of Fairmont, St. Pauls’ Justin Baker, and the Lumberton duo of Justice Sampson and Bryan Carpenter, were all smiles coming off of the field.
“Getting to dress next to my boy Justice again,” Carpenter said. “It really felt good, and I wish we could have come out on top, but if felt good to play baseball for the last time.”
For Carpenter, who went 0-for-3 in the loss, it will be his last time putting on a baseball jersey at a competitive level, as the former Lumberton Pirate will be moving on to play football at the college level next year.
“It really felt good considering I’m going off to play college football next year,” he said. “Baseball’s always been my first love.”
For teammate Sampson, it wasn’t the end of his baseball career, but that didn’t make it any less special.
“Just to play with my Robeson County boys and put on that jersey again,” Sampson said. “We all grew up together playing ball together. We just had that chemistry together so it felt good playing together.”
Sampson struggled during the game offensively, but made up for an 0-for-3 night with a one-two-three inning on the mound in the eighth inning.
“Knowing I came out with my best is all I could do,” he said.
Henderson had arguably the county’s top night, netting a pair of walks that led to two runs scored.
“It was exciting,” Henderson said. “It was just a thing to do and a last time to play ball.”
The last chance on Monday night wasn’t just for the players either, as coaches and parents filled the seats at SwampDog Stadium for one more chance to watch the seniors take the field.
“Just for them to get to play one more game wearing a Pirate uniform,” Lumberton coach Paul Hodges said. “You know the last time you wore it, the realization hit that this is it.
“You just lost in the playoffs, and you’re disappointed and emotional and so, getting to come play in a nice relaxed game like this is something special for them.”
It was also a chance for Hodges to remember the years that both Carpenter and Sampson had.
“B.C. really had a great senior year,” he said. “I think he outdid my expectations for him. Justice has been a great leader, not only on the field but off the field. I’m really going to miss both these guys.”
The same goes for Kelly Chavis, the coach of the St. Paul baseball team, who had only good things to say about Justin Baker, one of two seniors he is losing this year.
“You hate to lose a player like him,” Chavis said. “Just knowing the hard work and dedication he put into our program to make it better, it’s great for him to get an opportunity to showcase his talents with other All-Stars.”
Baker’s performance in the game, only highlighted his dedication to the team in the eyes of Chavis, as he went 0-1 with two hit by pitches resulting in one run for the team.
“Just his desire to be better and his ability to make guys around him better,” Chavis said. “He’s one of those guys who came with his hardhat and lunch pail and he did what he had to do to make the team better.”