On Memorial Day morning, the Harmony Eagles went back to work preparing for the regional finals, and for this small community, practice often feels like a family reunion.
“We have a lot of kids who, their dads played here or their uncles or family members,” said head coach Robbie McNeel. “There’s a lot of alumni and it’s really special for the kids.”
Coach McNeel’s son, Drew, plays shortstop, and has been dreaming of being part of a special run like this.
“It means the world to me, I’ve grown up here,” said Drew. “And all the alumni that’s put so much work into this, and to be able to play with these guys ,it’s just amazing.”
On a wall behind the home dugout, there is a sign, honoring the 2003 team which made it the state tournament.
Senior, Easton Blackstone, was the team’s bat boy.
“It just kind of reminds me of the tradition we have here, and all the players that have come before us and how hard they worked to get there,” said Blackstone. “Just trying to follow in their footsteps.”
He’s also following in the footsteps of his dad, Jeff Blackstone, who was the Eagles’ head coach in 2003.
But in 2015, he was killed in a car accident, when Easton was a freshman.
“Without my dad here, and really pushing me, I’ve got coach McNeel out here, and he pushes me every day,” said Blackstone.
“He’s handled it better than I would have, especially being as young as he was,” said coach McNeel. “But this has been therapy, I guess you could say for him, but he’s a strong kid.”
The Eagles will start their best of three Class 3A Region 2 final series against Van Alstyne at Mike Carter Field in Tyler on Thursday at 7:00 p.m., working to keep this journey alive, and clinch a spot in Round Rock.
Game two will be Friday in prosper also at 7:00 p.m. If a game three is needed, it will be in Royse City Saturday at 7:30 p.m.