Holtville’s baseball team is no stranger to success on the field and over the last decade, a lot of that success was due to having strong senior classes leading the way. The Class of 2020 learned a lot from the classes above them and while there are plenty of accomplishments from the field they will remember, the impact off the field may have been more important.
“The thing they are going to leave is leadership,” former Holtville coach Torey Baird said. “The way they approached everything they did was the right way. They took pride in their work. They practiced at a level to keep others accountable and that’s what they leave on the program.”
The Bulldogs had four seniors and two of them, Payton Coburn and Hunter Martin, spent the last four years on varsity. They got to be a part of four playoff series victories and 74 total wins.
“We had a great group of seniors my first year and in the second year we had Drew (Nobles) who was a great leader,” Baird said. “It started with those guys and this group ran with it. We preached it over and over again and they took it to heart.”
Martin showed those leadership qualities early on and players always looked up to him no matter how old he was. It helped he was one of the team’s top producers every year.
In his final three seasons, Martin posted a .360 batting average while leading the team with six home runs and 61 RBIs.
“You could just see his work ethic as soon as you met him,” Baird said. “You had to run him off the practice field. You could tell this kid was going to be pretty special.”
Coburn was also a three-year starter, spending most of his time in right field before moving to center as a senior. He contributed on the mound as well, throwing 47 innings and earning four wins.
“He was more of a silent leader,” Baird said. “He would be the first one to practice and start setting up the field but he wouldn’t tell everyone what to do. It was all by example and he took a lot of pride in his work. He always had a way to get guys to follow him.”
Brendan Carney joined his classmates at the varsity level for the final two years. He did not get as much playing time, posting only 37 plate appearances, but he made an impact in a smaller role, often being a late defensive substitution or a pinch runner.
“He was really good with his glove and he could run,” Baird said. “He would never complain about anything. If we asked him to run the bases, he would do it and run hard. I can’t say enough about a kid like that and what he meant to the team.”
The senior class got a big boost in its final year when Kolby Potts rejoined his hometown school. Potts, who transferred from Edgewood, did not even record a hit, getting just five plate appearances after returning from an injury, but Baird said his impact on the team could not be overstated.
“It made a huge difference,” Baird said. “Even after his injury, he kept doing what he could and he was just a great teammate. He was the first guy out of the dugout and he was never quiet. He was a spark and he’s like that with everything he does.”