After having an offseason shoulder surgery, it didn’t look like Cade Stang was going to be able to come back for his senior baseball season.
A few weeks into his rehab, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to.
After winning the Section 5A championship Thursday?
“It was worth it,” Stang said. “All that time of rehab, getting back to this moment is definitely worth it.”
While Stang would have been the team’s top returning pitcher had he been perfectly healthy, he was able to open the season in the starting lineup at first base, where his throwing would be kept to a minimum.
However, that also meant playing out of position.
“The first couple weeks of practice I couldn’t do much,” Stang said. “They put me at first to start out the season. I didn’t know what I was doing there, but I’m glad I did it and pushed through it.”
Stang eventually was able to make the move across the diamond to third base, where he has hit nearly .500.
“He’s been a four-year starter and the kids look up to him,” Royalton head coach Aaron Meier said. “Hopefully with these young kids we can have about 10 or 11 Cades when they’re seniors.”
Indeed, Stang is one of only two seniors on the roster and the only one who started in Thursday’s 13-6 win over PACT Charter in the section finals.
While he has helped groom some of the young talent along, early on this spring things were a bit dicey, as the Royals were outscored 40-8 in their first three games.
“The beginning of the season we weren’t very good,” Stang said. “I had serious doubts. But we’re such a young team, every single game just added to our experience. We just got confidence moving forward. Now that we’re here, we kind of feel like we’re unstoppable.”
Next year’s team won’t have Stang, but it will have state tournament experience under its belt.
“Absolutely,” Meier said. “Next year we’ll probably have a little bit of a target on our back. The kids are going to have to work hard, but we’ll look forward to that after the state tournament.”
The Royals won’t simply be content to have qualified for state, Stang said, but will also make sure to enjoy the trip.
“Do some damage, but have fun,” Stang said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
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