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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Central Coosa's Bryer Murchison returned for his senior year of baseball.

It’s easy for players to keep coming back to a team if they’re winning. But when they’re not so successful, it takes a lot more passion and dedication.

That’s what Central Coosa’s baseball seniors brought to the table this season.

“What they’re leaving is the love of baseball and sports in general,” Coosa coach Dave Stover said. “They had pride in their school system and in their community. All of them are involved with other things, and they’re leaving with the younger kids a great work ethic.”

Four of the five Cougar seniors were regular staples throughout their high school careers. The exception was Bryer Murchison, who took last year off but returned with a vengeance for his senior season. He was the starting third baseman and also pitched regularly.

“This year he came in and really wanted to work hard,” Stover said. “He told himself that this year he really wanted to excel at this and he did. He was one of my hardest hitters and he contributed on the offensive and defensive sides.”

Possibly the most improved was Landon Meadows, who split time between right field and first base.

“He was one that came in with real low skills and he just really improved through the years,” Stover said. “He got to where he could actually get out and play the position that we needed him to play. He really enjoyed being out there and that was one of the greatest things about Landon.”

The other three seniors were multi-sport athletes for the Cougars and their competitive edges carried over onto the baseball field.

Dawson Duncan was a standout for the football team and his success on the gridiron flourished as he moved to the baseball season.

“When he played football this year, his confidence really went up and because of football, he had an aggressiveness on the field,” Stover said. “He felt like he could go play anywhere and he could, and confidence was a big part of that.”

Stover and the Cougars certainly took advantage of that as Duncan played in the outfield and at catcher as well as pitched.

Like Duncan, Ryan Payne became a utility player for the Cougars, playing at pitcher, catcher and shortstop most regularly.

“He played anywhere you needed him to,” Stover said with a laugh. “He really became a leader. He went from being a quiet kid in the background and a decent ball player to become a leader this year. He was always really positive and enjoyed the game this year; he really stepped up when it came to that.”

Donta Daniel rounded out the senior class for Coosa’s baseball team and he worked on his skills to become even better as a starting pitcher and outfielder this year.

“I saw his accuracy in pitching become a real factor,” Stover said. “He was consistent and he could pitch 100 pitches and not get tired because of being in shape. He takes his fitness to a personal level and he was just all around the outfield. If there was a ball hit anywhere near him, he was going to get it.”

Stover was especially excited about this season because of this senior class and thought the Cougars were going to reach new heights. They were off to their best start in recent memory before the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These boys were great and they did what they needed to do,” Stover said. “We had some things we were working on and we were getting to that level that we were hoping to be. I hate that they didn’t get to prove they were a formidable opponent.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.