Senior Noah Bastain would not trade his time playing high school baseball at Grace Baptist Academy for anything in the world.
With a red-clay soaked jersey after a 12-inning hard-fought loss to Whitwell on Monday night, the senior leader for the Golden Eagles focused on the positives and the silver linings that he will take with him the rest of his life.
"There were times where we could have laid down and just quit, but we didn't," Bastain said. "Everyone on this team has come out and put the hard work in and given the game their all.
"Coach (Adam) Brumlow has pushed us to be our best. Even though the tornado last Easter took out our school and our baseball field, he has been there for us and pushed us to stick with it. We will never give up or quit in baseball or off the field."
While last year's tornado destroyed the school's entire campus, taking away the players common ground, the Golden Eaggles have formed a strong bond and put in the work at the East Brainerd youth ball fields — which has served as their temporary home away from home.
The team was also helped out by Chattanooga State, where Grace was able to land some memorable victories as well.
With Bastain's leadership along with Cameron Grace, Kade Fontana among many others, the way they have responded to a tough situation will leave a larger legacy than what numbers they put up on the field.
"These boys have been through several different head coaches and several players left the team, not to mention the devastating tornado that took our school from them," Brumlow said. "The easiest thing would have been to give up.
"To have been able to coach them is such a blessing and an honor. They have been through some tough times, but stuck with one another and kept working. They have left a strong foundation of brotherhood for others behind them to follow."
Moving forward, younger standouts on the team — Caleb Adams, Pierce Smith, Will Thompson and Ramsey Brumlow — will remember the way their senior teammates paved the way through adversity.
"Grace is a smaller school and because of that the culture here is brotherhood and staying together," Fontana said. "We have a tight-knit bond not matter what. We competed as hard as we can. Being around this group meant a lot to all of us and we want the younger guys to keep working and fighting to be their best."
Cameron Grace added: "I will always remember this group and team. We have been through a lot of ups and downs, but we stayed together and that is what is most important. We learned a lot that will help us going forward."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.