High School Sports

Middleburg Broncos Baseball: Building Off Traditions

todayApril 14, 2022

Background

By Jame Critch

The Middleburg Broncos Varsity Baseball team finished their 2021 campaign with a 11-15 record and a loss in the District Championship to Stanton. This has Coach Daniel Pearce feeling confident that the team can build from and get right back into the thick of things this season.

Pearce graduated from Middleburg in 2002 and was part of the schools District Championship team that same year. In the fall of 2002 Pearce played baseball at Flagler College and then transferred to Blackburn College in 2003 and graduated in 2007. Following his graduation Daniel made his way back home to the Broncos and has been a part of the coaching staff for 16 years. Pearce is now in his sixth season at the helm of the Varsity program.

The coaching staff consists of a combined 40 years at the Horseshoe. Along with Pearce the coaches are Allen Burnsed, who was the head coach at Middleburg for 10 years starting back in 1997 before stepping away for five years for personal reasons; Jarod Burghart, whom Pearce were high school teammates from 98-02, has been a part of the staff since 2005; and Charles Mickens, who is also on the Middleburg football staff, is in his first season at Middleburg after transferring from Fleming Island. The staff is an “all hands-on deck” group according to Pearce and they have things set up this way because “all coaches are knowledgeable in the aspects of baseball and conveying things to the players”.

Building off last season’s late run with a 9-5 record, that helped propel the team into the playoffs and a spot in the District Championship game, is no easy task from season to season. Losing only five players to graduation and a heavy laced Senior class, getting back to the Championship game may be a realistic goal. According to Pearce one of their goals as a team is to “get back to the playoffs and put ourselves in position to win the District Championship this time.” The team is led by Seniors: Clay Hendry(P), Logan Padgett(LF), Luke Padgett(3rd), Caleb Freytag(CF), Trent White(SS), Donovan Wimberly(1st), Ethan Edgington(C), along with underclassmen that have shown to be ready for the Varsity game in players: JR Jake Baxley(DH), SOP Skylar Gray(2nd) and SOP Austin Larson(P).

Goals of getting back to the District Championship game will be met with large obstacles to overcome with teams such as Columbia, St. Augustine (W 6-3) along with local rivals Ridgeview Panthers (W 10-4), Fleming Island (W 2-1) and the always competitive Gainesville Hurricanes. Along with the competition factor Coach Pearce knows the team will have to overcome injuries that are affecting the lineup. “We’re having to navigate through arm injuries that are effecting mound time. We need to be cautious and put the right pitchers in the right situations to be successful.”

Pearce and his staff are believers that it is their responsibility to make sure their players are given the best coaching possible and provided with the tools to get the most out of the program. Off the field Pearce is passionate that the players get the most out of the classroom and give back to their community. “Education and good grades are not only for the privilege to play baseball here but for the students future. Their education is where it is at for their future in college with the possibilities to continuing playing ball but also for their future out of the game. We also believe in giving back to our community and teaching the players that a servant leadership is extremely important in our program. The players go out and box meals and hand them out to families in need at the First Baptist Church in Middleburg as well as going to the local Elementary school and spending time reading to the students.

During Christmas the players will sponsor kids in need by providing and handing out gifts to children in need. This servant leadership can always be a part of the student athlete because at some point, they will stop playing baseball but giving back and helping others can last forever”.

Middleburg is a school that believes building a winning tradition is measured not just by wins on the diamond but by the types of young men that graduate from their program and how they contribute to their community. This type of tradition has been in place for some time and if Pearce remains at the helm the community should be proud of the men that will come out of this school, and it doesn’t hurt that they will win games along the way.

Written by: 1010admin


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