This past January, Charles Henderson senior Mitch McLeod was found on the basketball court doing what he could to help his team win.
However, that was not the only Trojan team he had on his mind at the time.
A little more than a month later, after a 4-3 victory at Frazier Field over Luverne, McLeod was found sprinting into the Trojans’ dugout.
When he sat down on the bench, he said, “This is my home,” with a smile.
Since his sophomore year, that field has been McLeod’s home, and not just because he loves the game of baseball.
“It’s the tradition of this place — all the players and coaches that have been through here,” McLeod said. “I have been watching this team since I was in the seventh grade and to be a part of that tradition is a great feeling.”
After the season the senior has had, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine McLeod’s name included in the Trojans’ history.
In the regular season, McLeod was the anchor for the CHHS pitching staff thanks to a 7-2 overall record, 66 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA.
At the plate, he led Trojans in four different offensive categories: singles with 31, runs scored with 41, stolen bases with seven and had a .431 batting average.
The statistics are not the only thing the senior brings to the ballpark, however.
“His effort and competitive spirit is something he brings to the field every single day,” said McLeod’s head coach, Derek Irons.
“That’s not an easy thing to do. In a 36 game season, there could be times when that’s not the case, but he has the same mentality every day – and that is something that the guys follow.”
There is a reason McLeod brings the kind of enthusiasm he has to the field – to help get a win.
“It’s kind of like an obligation to keep the winning tradition alive,” he said. “And if you think about it, it can be pretty stressful.”
“But all of us just want to be on the field and play ball. We all know we are good enough to be out here, and we all know that when we have the “CH” on our chest, we are expected to win,” the senior added.
McLeod and his teammates added on to the baseball tradition at CHHS this season thanks to the team receiving the program’s first No. 1 ranking in the ASWA poll.
“(That ranking) added a lot of pressure, but at the same time, we were dealing with that kind of pressure the first time we were ranked (earlier in the season),” McLeod said.
“Since then, we have had a target on our backs. But now that we are in the playoffs, the rankings are gone. All that matters is who lasts the longest.”
McLeod had a big hand in helping the Trojans advance past Monroe County in the state tournament last Friday.
In game one, McLeod pitched a complete game giving up just two hits while striking out eight Tiger batters and getting the first win of the series in the process.
Now, CHHS finds itself preparing for the next round and a matchup with a familiar foe in Rehobeth, who has beaten the Trojans twice already this season.
That is not something that worries McLeod though.
“This team can go as far as we want to go,” McLeod said.
“I have seen these guys everyday, and everyday they bring the right intensity to the field.
“I really believe that we can beat any team in the state on any given day,” he added.
Even though McLeod has been able to accomplish a lot this season, he said he hopes his shining still has yet to happen.
“Hopefully, it is yet to be seen,” he said with a smile. “I hope it comes in Montgomery when I am holding that trophy up.”