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Hoping for title, fans give Colts a big send-off

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Students, school staff and family members wave goodbye to the Albemarle School Colts and wish the baseball team good luck as it leaves the school under a county escort, Friday afternoon. The team was set to compete in the 1A NCISAA state championship in Henderson this weekend.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Saturday, May 18, 2019

With two upset victories in the 1A NCISAA state playoffs, the Albemarle School baseball team played its way into the best-of-three state championship series in Henderson on Friday.

To celebrate the Colts’ first state title appearance since 1991 — and wish them good luck against top-seeded Kerr-Vance Academy — Albemarle School students, parents, teachers, alumni and community members turned out at the school Friday at noon to give the team a big send-off.

As the crowd cheered, about a dozen cars containing players and coaches, along with their families, pulled out of the Albemarle School parking lot. Then led by a fire truck and a couple of police cars, the convoy proceeded onto U.S. Highway 17 South.

“We have to send them out in style,” Albemarle School Athletic Director Tim Dunn said. “It’s a really big deal to make it to a state championship game, especially from such a small school.”

The private school, which has an enrollment of about 200 students in grades 1-12, has seen an uptick in school spirit since the No. 6 seed Colts defeated No. 2 Greenfield School Tuesday in the eight-team state bracket.

“There’s such an excitement and pride around our varsity boys,” Albemarle School Headmaster Holly Glenn said.

Those who’ve attended the school a long time say they’ve never seen the level of excitement like that of the past few days.

“It’s never been this big,” said Sylvia Jennings, a sophomore who’s been a student at Albemarle School since she was 2. “It’s been good, it’s been really fun the last few days seeing all the people dress in blue.”

Jennings said she planned to make the trip to Henderson for game one of the championship series Friday night.

Monique Guzman, a cheerleader at Albemarle School, stood holding a sign wishing the Colts good luck as the convoy left the school.

“It was pretty awesome,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone go that far for a send-off, but it was really cool.”

Mike Wasson, an assistant coach for the Albemarle School varsity boys basketball team, also attended the send-off to show his support for the Colts.

Wasson also has a long history with the school. His daughter Lauren, who’s now in the eighth grade, has attended the school since she was 2. He, too, has never seen the level of excitement and support at the school like he has the past week.

“It’s very overwhelming because we’re such a small school,” he said. “This is probably one of the highlights I’ll remember.”

Just before pulling out of the parking lot en route to Henderson, Albemarle School baseball coach Jeff Simpson expressed his thanks for the support the team’s received over the past week.

“It’s not just the school,” Simpson said. “The whole city, county — everybody’s come out to support us. We got the fire trucks, police cars .... I cannot believe the support we’ve gotten from everybody.”

The Colts baseball team had just eight wins in its 17 games this season heading into Friday’s championship series against Kerr-Vance. Despite those and other struggles, the Colts have had injured players return and are clicking at just the right time.

For Colts baseball fans, this weekend’s championship series also vindicates the decision to return baseball to the school. Albemarle revived baseball in 2016 after not fielding a team since the early 2000s.

“I wouldn’t say surprised because having watched them the last few years, I knew they always had the potential,” Dunn said. “The coaches kept hammering the same messages in and they finally clicked at the right time.”

Game two of the state championship begins at noon today in Henderson and game three, if necessary, begins 30 minutes after game two.

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