EAST LAKE — All season long, East Lake Coach Dan Genna constantly reiterated his team’s potential.
With eight seniors and a top-of-the-line pitching staff, this was the year the Eagles could and should contend for a state title.
There were moments throughout the season when that opinion appeared prophetic. There were others that raised doubts. But all the while Genna continually sowed that seed of greatness into the minds of his players. This team had something special going and they needed to realize that, after every confidence-building win and every frustrating defeat.
Last weekend at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, the Eagles proved on the field what their coach had been saying all along. East Lake dropped its Class 7A state final 5-2 to Hialeah American High, but its status as a championship-caliber club was evident.
Just to get to Saturday’s title game the Eagles had to get through a murderer’s row of potential state champions while playing as the visitor each and every night.
Sarasota, Northeast, Melbourne and Osceola Kissimmee — all on the road — before finally squaring off against American. Three of those playoff wins required extra frames, including Friday night’s 13-inning affair over Osceola that tied for the longest in state-finals history.
Following the eventual 5-2 setback and players and coaches receiving their runners-up hardware, Genna credited this year’s senior class with establishing one of the top teams in program history and living up to his high expectations.
Of the eight seniors, Cameron Churchill, Keegan Maronpot and Andrew Prozzillo are four-year varsity contributors and finish their careers with a state runner-up finish, three district titles, two Pinellas County Athletic Conference championships and two Lee Byers Invitational championships.
“The trophy case is huge for those three guys,” Genna said. “(This is a) spectacular group of eight seniors that fought their butts off. This has definitely been the best four years for East Lake baseball with what we’ve accomplished. I’m extremely proud of these seniors. They really sold out for their teammates.”