Shady Spring, W.Va. (WVVA) - There are two things the 2019 Tigers knew how to do well.
Have fun and win baseball games.
"Once sectionals started rolling around, we were loving it," new head coach Jordan Meadows said. "We were bringing out the medals, we were starting all that kind of stuff."
"I was one of the younger ones -- I was a sophomore last year," Parker Redden added. "Being around all the seniors and having my best friends around -- that was a blast. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience."
The team rode that late-season surge to sectional and regional championships. For the first time in 13 seasons, Shady Spring had punched its ticket to the state tournament -- thanks in part to the seven seniors.
"Some good leaders -- great players," senior Chris Lilly said. "Guys that drove everybody. Pushed everyday to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing."
"They were best friends," sophomore Josh Lovell said. "So, I feel what made them better together was just how close they were."
They met the Bridgeport buzz saw in the first round of the state tournament. The season ended in a 9-2 defeat, but still, no one hung their head.
"It was something I said in the dugout in Charleston -- we'll be back," Lilly recalled. "It was a feeling really -- just being there. It was something special."
After nearly 25 seasons under the direction of Dave Shaw, the Tigers were prepared to make the trip back with Shady alum, and new head coach, Jordan Meadows.
"I think the seniors set the example for the kids coming up," he said. "I think with me being the head coach, everybody just got the thrill of 'yeah, we can definitely do this.'"
But, COVID-19 put a stop to Meadows' first season in charge before it truly began.
"It really hurts inside," he admitted. "But I just hate it for the seniors and it's just one of those things that we really can't control."
"It was something I was ready for a long time ago -- this season," Lilly said. "For the long wait and then it not to happen -- it was just heartbreaking."
"I was just looking forward to being with my best friends doing what we love again, you know?" Redden said. "This is what we live for -- coming out here and competing like we do."
For the two weeks the team did practice in March, however, Meadows had home time to set the foundation for years to come.
"I kind of just tried to do the little things, just to try and change the culture and I think the kids started to like it," Meadows said. "I plan to implement more in the future, but just the start is what I'm liking to see."
And there's a sense of confidence about this group already building for 2021.
"Now that we've been to states and we know what it looks like -- that's the expectation every single year," Lovell said. "To go right back and go further than we did last year."
"Just something to prove," Redden added. "We've got something to prove to everybody that us Shady boys can do it right. I'm excited."