Evan Waring has spent a lot of time this spring catching trout instead of line drives.
The Pine Creek senior and starting third baseman for the school’s baseball team was caught off guard on March 12 — as were the rest of his teammates — when CHSAA suspended the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire season was eventually canceled on April 21.
Rather than sulking, Waring headed to places like Rampart Reservoir and Pueblo Reservoir to do a little fishing. “Going out fishing a lot helps calm the soul,” Waring said. “It kind of hurt the soul when our season was canceled. We were all pretty disappointed. We thought this was going to be our year. Hoping we could win our league and do well in districts and advance deep into the playoffs.”
Losing the baseball season impacted Pine Creek as much, if not more, than any team in the state. The Eagles entered this campaign having won the last 10 Class 5A Metro League championships. No team in the state has had as much success over the same span from 2010-19.
“Not even Cherry Creek,” Eagles’ longtime coach Glenn Millhauser said. “I was excited to see how this group of guys would do. Especially our seniors.”
Millhauser relies a lot on senior leadership. Waring was just one of five seniors on this year’s team. The others were Kit Wigington, Caden Madsen, AJ Huber and Josh Roper.
“This all still seems so unreal. I still haven’t coped with it. It’s been pretty rough,” said Madsen, who was tabbed to be the team’s ace pitcher this spring.
Millhauser’s Pine Creek teams — he had a successful career at Air Academy before taking over the Eagles in 2009 — have been the model of consistency most coaches dream about but never find. After finishing tied for second in 2009, his Eagles rolled to the league title in 2010 with a 14-2 conference record.
Millhauser said going after an 11th straight title would have been difficult considering he graduated eight starters off last year’s club that went 12-0 in league play.
“I felt we would have defended our title,” Millhauser said. “Doherty would have given us a challenge. They returned a lot of starters. It would have been exciting to see how things worked out.”
Technically, the Eagles will still be the defending league champs heading into the 2021 season. This year’s vacant title is an anomaly.
Wigington, an outfielder, was the only returning player on this year’s team who saw any significant action as a junior. He batted .305 (18-for-59) in 24 games with 17 RBIs.
“For the last year I was looking forward to playing with these seniors and other guys I’ve never played with,” Wigington said. “I was looking forward to being a leader on this team. I was looking forward to living up to the Pine Creek dynasty. Adding another notch to the belt.”
Wigington will play baseball for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs next year, while Waring will play for Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
“I am looking forward to playing in college, but I was really looking forward to celebrating what this team could have been this spring,” Wigington said. “I will never step on a high school field again.”
Pine Creek will play in the revamped 5A-4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference in 2021, joining the likes of traditional strong programs like Lewis-Palmer, Cheyenne Mountain, Palmer Ridge and Air Academy.
“I am looking forward to that challenge,” Millhauser said. “But it would have been nice to try and win one last Metro League championship.”