Added motivation can take MHS to another level

“We are a brotherhood,” said Kirchner. “Our whole team is pretty close.”


By Dylan O'Toole, Round Table Executive Editor

From the Ravens Super Bowl victory in Ray Lewis’ final season, to the magnificent season of the Colts after head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia: strong emotions can lead to unexpected success.

After the tragic car accident resulting in Middletown High School senior Claire Knight’s death, all Middletown teams have an added layer of motivation.

The baseball team is especially invested in winning a title for Claire. Many players on the team were extremely close to her, and a state championship is something that would mean a great deal to the players.

“For a few guys specifically, it’s just more personal,” said Knights ace, senior Colson Kirchner. “It allows us to come out with a fire each game.”

We play for her.”

Claire’s death has been a huge source of inspiration for the baseball team, and thoughts of Claire fuel them to work even harder than usual.

Even with the extra motivation, this season will be an uphill battle for the Knights. After losing five starters from last year’s sectional championship team, the Knights will look to improve upon last year’s playoff results, with an inexperienced, but talented team.

The Knights are a team that boasts all seniors, and one sophomore, but most of the returning players sat on the pine for the majority of last season.

“We are a brotherhood,” said Kirchner. “Our whole team is pretty close.”

The new line-up has moved returning starter, senior 3B Kevin Gibson to SS, as he covers the most ground. Senior Zeb Ahalt will fill the shoes of Mitch Sgrignoli at second to round out the middle infield.

Seniors Daustin Chen and Danny Finn will play 1B and 3B respectively.

Returning starter Tyler Hickey appears to be an everyday starter in the outfield, while the other two spots will be platooned between seniors Mason Machak, Matt Lynch and Jesse Strasburg.

“It’s the little things we have to work on,” said Gibson. “We have to make sure we work as a team throughout the whole game.”

The Knights lost two of their three starting pitchers from, last season, but they return Kirchner, who has the pitches to get anyone out.

“We are working our way back into the starting rotation,” said Gibson. “It’s all about working hard.”

Gibson, along with Finn, will step into the starting rotation. These are two suitable replacements for college players Austin Main and Chase Hoffman, who dominated Frederick County last season.

Finn has been an on-and-off starter for the Knights over the past two years, and as a senior he appears poised to dominate.

Gibson, who didn’t even throw a single pitch last year, has become a staple in the Knights rotation. He hopes to bring his knuckleball into the fold this season.

“I’m really hoping I can fool some kids this year with my knuckleball,” said Gibson. “Maybe I won’t have to throw any other pitches.”

The Knights are a team filled with talent, but the talent is not what will carry the Knights to where they want to go.

“We are just trying to play for Claire,” said Gibson. “We just want to do something special by winning a state title.”