LOWER SALFORD >> It wasn’t the season Ryan Kagarise and his fellow seniors envisioned, but they kept fighting through it.
Souderton baseball had its ups and downs and a few more downs than ups have the 2019 PIAA Class 6A champions all but out of the postseason picture but the team is still looking to finish strong. It was a similar case for Kagarise, who endured a rough slump mid-season but battled his way back into the lineup and near the top of the team’s RBI leaderboard.
Saturday, Souderton honored its nine seniors with a 12-2 five inning win over Lansdale Catholic at Vic Alderfer Memorial Ball Park.
“It was great to have this type of game,” Kagarise, who started in left field Saturday, said. “We came together, played loose and fun on a beautiful day.”
Souderton, like everyone else in PA, lost its 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic but the Indians came into the spring pretty optimistic about their chances. Things started going against them before the season even started with injuries and health and safety protocols taking guys out of the lineup, moving others around and asking the team to adapt almost game to game.
Senior Jacob Horton, for example, projected to be the team’s starting catcher and ended up not catching an inning this season. Souderton coach Mike Childs had to make the Lebanon Valley College football recruit his No. 1 pitching arm instead but Horton, a team captain, just rolled with it.
It was the same for the rest of the roster, which kept showing up ready to compete even when things were going wrong.
“This team, led by the seniors, battled through a tough season and could end up 10-10 or 9-11,” Childs said. “Honestly, it’s a moral victory. We felt we could compete with any team, but we had more errors, misplays or being robbed by kids making great plays than I can remember but our guys battled until we lost (at North Penn) Wednesday when we knew that was it as far as making playoffs.”
Kagarise isn’t playing baseball beyond this season, instead the senior will attend the University of Pennsylvania and study mechanical engineering. Childs joked the outfielder “got a perfect SAT score” before adding he was proud of the way Kagarise got himself out of a slump at the plate to become a steady offensive contributor later in the season.
On Saturday, Kagarise collected two hits including a two-run double in the second inning and scored a pair of runs in his last home game.
“The main thing was just getting back to playing loose and having fun,” Kagarise said. “I was over-thinking at the plate, so I just needed to come down.
“This season has shown us how to deal with adversity, work together and overcome challenges while having fun doing it.”
Souderton sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring four times. The Indians added five runs in the second inning keyed by a two-run triple from Horton, who led the team with four RBIs on the afternoon, and Kagarise’s double down the third base line.
Kagarise added a single in the third inning.
“Sometimes, guys don’t rebound from a tough start but he’s a smart kid and a good kid so when he had to sit, he understood it was because he had to play better,” Childs said. “He figured it out, earned his way back. It’s good to see a senior come back with that kind of attitude and become one of our top guys making contact and swinging the bat.”
From freshman team to a final home game together, it’s been a special trip for Souderton’s seniors and Kagarise hoped they were able to show the underclassmen the strength a solid bond can bring to a team. This spring has been a release, a chance for them to get on the field for a couple hours each day after a year away from the game.
“I’ll remember the stuff off the field just as much as anything on the field,” Kagarise said. “The bond, team dinners, getting to hang out with each other and be there for each other are all things that stand out.”
SOUDERTON 12, LANSDALE CATHOLIC 2 (5)
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 001 10 – 2 4 4
SOUDERTON 450 12 – 12 10 1
3B: S – Jacob Horton. 2B: S – Ryan Kagarise, Shanley Wall; LC – Ryan Martinez.