By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Stayton’s Eli Brown is one tough cookie. Playing in a 4A State Baseball game and an entire American Legion schedule with a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury he sustained during a 7-on-7 scrimmage going into the postseason last Spring. Not knowing the extent of the injury until he went into get an MRI after the Canyon Crushers season came to an end back at the end of July.
“Once I got my MRI and realized what had happened, it was surreal knowing that I played all Summer on it. It was pretty crazy because I didn’t feel it, I didn’t have that much pain, but there was times where I felt it and (thinking) ‘something is going on’ and we didn’t know what it was. When you’re out there and playing, you just block it out and keep going and being there for your guys,” Brown said.
The senior catcher went in for surgery in September and was on top of PT and rehab to get back out to his team as quickly as he could. Missing out on his final season of football sucked as the Eagles went 7-3 overall and reached the first round of the 4A postseason, but he kept his eye on the prize in making his return to baseball a few months later.
“It was tough being on the sidelines for football, watching all the buddies you were playing with and they’re playing, working hard and not being out there with them. We knew from the beginning that the end goal was to get back for baseball. Five months later after surgery we’re back here and got cleared a few weeks ago and ready to go.and get it done,” Brown said. “(Baseball) means the world. These guys out here, they’re my brothers. A lot of these guys, we’ve been playing together since we were third and fourth grade. Being out here, getting one more run with these guys senior year and try to get one home.”
The Eagles, who reached the 4A State Playoffs last Spring, returns a strong core. Brown, Cody Leming, Connor Choate, Ty Borde, Wyatt Hopper to name a few. Mix in the return of Wyatt Connally and Jace Aguilar joining the squad and Stayton has the tools to compete with Newport, Philomath and North Marion this season in the Oregon West Conference.
“We put in a lot of work over the offseason, a lot of guys grown and became a lot better ballplayers, we all have. Everyone has been working hard in the offseason,” Brown starts. “Getting Wyatt back and Jace came back from Jefferson so we have another two seniors added on the roster, so it was big to get those guys back and tack them onto the team.”
Stayton opens the season with back-to-back games as they travel to Wilsonville on Tuesday to play Gladstone before hosting Valley Catholic on Wednesday before the Eagles close out the opening week hosting Yamhill-Carlton on March 17.
Stayton opens Oregon West Conference play April 10 at home against Newport.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald