The Cheyenne Mountain baseball team had the start of the 2020 season circled on their calendars for years.
With a loaded senior class, and deep runs in the 4A state state tournament the past two seasons, it appeared 2020 was going to be "their year."
The Indians were named the top 4A team in the Colorado High School Activities Association's preseason poll and the team could feel something special on the horizon as they prepared to load the bus for their season opener.
A game which they never got to play.
CHSAA’s first spring postponement was announced mere hours before Cheyenne Mountain’s scheduled opener at Elizabeth before the spring season was officially canceled at the end of April due to COVID-19.
“It was a bummer because we worked so hard to get to this point to see their fruition as seniors but it just didn't happen,” said Cheyenne Mountain coach Mark Swope. “It kind of drug itself out, but we could kind of see the writing on the wall that we probably weren’t going to get a season, but we knew we would get everyone together once again.”
On Monday, the Indians had a chance to gain some closure on the 2020 season "that could have been" with a Senior Day doubleheader against Colorado Instructional League, a club baseball team in Denver.
Cheyenne Mountain honored its 12 seniors and their families prior to the first pitch, and split the doubleheader, with a 7-6 walkoff win in Game 1, and dropped Game 2 16-9.
Javi Mondejar, Hank Morley, Michael Ellis, Noah Logan, Cameron Buckler and Ryan Berkoff were six of the 12 seniors honored Monday, and have been playing together since they were eight years old. Brad Helton has also played with the Indian’s class of 2020 for the last decade, and will return as one of the team’s two seniors next year.
“It was awesome to get to play with my friends one more time. And I was hoping my last game wasn’t going to be my junior year losing in the playoffs, so playing this last game means a lot to me knowing, this is it,” Mondejar said. “Most of my friends are going to play college baseball and I’m not, so it’s like a final hurrah.”
After over three months off, Morley said his legs were shaking a little during his first at-bat, but he settled in quickly, finishing the doubleheader with four RBIs and a solo home run.
“It was really tough not being able to play your senior year but it feels good to be back. Baseball is more fun with friends, so it’s exciting to be back out here with these guys,” Morley said.
Modejar, Buckler and Ellis have been on the Indians’ varsity team since their freshman year, setting the groundwork for what Swope and the Indians hoped to be a title-winning season.
“We knew right away when they were freshmen that this group was going to be really good, and so we kind of targeted this year and eyeballed this 2020 season,” Swope said. “And when that didn’t work out the important thing was getting everyone back on the field one last time.”
The Cheyenne Mountain class of 2020 helped the Indians to a 55-20 record in four years, and were 40-14 in their final two varsity seasons. And now, they’re self-declared state champions.
“I’m not going to look back at what could have been, I’m going to look back on what we did,” Mondejar said. “Third place our sophomore year, fifth place our junior year and self-declared state champions my senior year. Started first, finished first.”