Lone Grove duo named to All-Star team
By Mallory Graves
Kolton Ellis and Ethan Barnes took off against the wind in the 2020 season and faced their challenges head on. The Lone Grove senior athletes stepped up to the plate during the shortened season earning themselves a place on the 3A West All-Star baseball team of 2020.
“It was such a relief to see all of the hard work that I’ve put in since freshman year pay off to get to this spot,” Barnes said. “To be named an All-Star was something I have waited on for a long time and it was incredible.”
Ellis was excited as well.
“My coach told me that I made the team,” Ellis said. “Emotionally, I was proud and honored of my accomplishment. I rushed to go tell my mom and dad as soon as I got the good news.”
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled many senior springtime sporting events, including the bulk of baseball season.
“By me being a one-sport athlete, the virus has deprived me of my final year of high school baseball,” Ellis said. “I didn’t get a chance to participate in any other games or sports. A big thing that COVID-19 has taken were the opportunities that this year had in store. We had a chance to win our first district title in four years and have a chance at making it to state. Also, missing out on exposure for college recruitment. It also took away our normal life with friends and family and completely changed to out of the ordinary. I’m upset that I couldn’t finish what I started this year, but I am also hopeful for what the future holds.”
“It was heart-crushing to hear that we weren’t going to get to finish our senior year baseball season,” Barnes said. “I was very disappointed to see the potential that we had get washed away with this. It also robbed us of a lot of memories that we’ll never get to experience as well. However, I’m not the only senior that has suffered from this. All you can do is hope for the best.”
“This is just a very unfortunate situation not only for these guys, but for seniors all across the world,” said Lone Grove head baseball coach Tyler Pybas. “It really stinks for everybody, but especially the seniors losing those moments. We only got to play seven games, leaving our record at 5-2. I think we would have done well in the play-offs. During these times, I have often thought about the quote, tough times don’t last, tough people do. Although it does suck for my guys, I believe that these awards can help them feel more motivated.”
Pybas remains proud of his diligent athletes despite the adversities brought on by the pandemic.
“That just shows the type of work that they have put in, as far as baseball goes, all the extra time, hitting and pitching they have invested in this sport,” Pybas said. “I fully believe they deserve that award. Hard work does not go unnoticed. I just want them to look in the mirror and be proud of who they see, because winning this title is a big deal.”
Making it to the top requires dedication, something Pybas said his players excelled at.
“I’ve known Kolton ever since he was a freshman, and just the work that he has put in from being 15 years old to 18 years old can show how driven he really is,” Pybas said. “He has come a long way. As far as ability, he plays first base for us, and has done a really good job defensively. His ability to help us on defense was tremendous. Ethan has played shortstop the majority of the time. That is a very demanding position in baseball and he has done a good job in that spot. He also led our team in hit-by-pitch; he was always finding ways to get on base. They both understood their role and always tried to perform it at a high level.”
A sport can not only cheer you up but teach you valuable life lessons as well, something the Lone Grove seniors have learned along the way.
“I have been playing since around the age of four. This has been my passion ever since the moment I picked one up,” said Barnes. “Baseball always cheered me up. I could be having the worst day possible, but as soon as I stepped on the field, my mind was solely focused on the game and nothing else mattered. This sport means everything to me and the memories that have been picked up along the way are priceless.”
“Being an athlete has made me a better person by learning how to work as hard as I can not only for myself, but for my teammates fighting for a common goal,” Ellis said. “It has also taught me even though you may strike out or make an error, there’s always another opportunity ahead to try again.”