The weight of their losses causes a paradigm shift for the Elwood-Eustis Bulls

LEXINGTON – The Elwood-Eustis Bulls has instilled pride in their parents and coaches with each game in their first season back on the field despite the losses. The newly christened team has yet to close a win this season but the coaches have said, ‘that’s okay.’ They got better with each game and that’s all the coaches could ask for.

Friday, the team traveled to Boelus to meet the DCB Seniors and, for the first time this season, seemed defeated before the games really got going.

Elwood-Eustis found the first run in their first game with DCB, scoring one in the top of the first inning. The Bulls allowed five runs in the bottom of the first, three runs in the bottom of the second, and one more in the bottom of the third inning. Elwood-Eustis’ next response to the scoring came in at the top of the fourth inning, scoring two runs, but DCB answered both runs to take a 3-11 lead. The Bulls had fallen to the DCB Seniors, 3-11, in their first game and you could see a change in the Bulls.

To watch the athletes of the Elwood-Eustis Bulls in any other sport, fans and parents know that they are not quitters. They’ll push for another yard, they try for every point from any deficit, and they’ll give a good fight to anyone on the wrestling mat. The Bulls fans saw on Friday in Boelus were uncharacteristically defeated before the second game even started.

The Bulls had initially agreed to two five-inning games with DCB for Friday night’s doubleheader. The coaches had encouraged them to go a full seven for the second and they agreed. The response was a very long game which included a painfully long third inning in which the DCB Seniors put up nine runs. The inning dragged on and with error after error, it seemed it would never end until a coach shouted some words of tough-love encouragement from the dugout.

The general feeling seemed to be that the fans showed up but the team didn’t.

When the game finally ended, the Elwood-Eustis Seniors had fallen, 2-16, and the tension in the air was thick as the Bulls’ head coach Keith Henggeler called the players, coaches and parents for a meeting after the game.

In an interview, Coach Henggeler said that as he gets older nothing shocks or frustrates him. What he felt after the games on Friday was disappointment.

“Winning is contagious, losing is contagious and giving up on yourself and your team in contagious,” Henggeler said. “Yes, they are getting better but they gave up on themselves and that’s unacceptable.”

Henggeler and the other coaches felt that this needed to be addressed with the team before it went any further, not because of wins or losses, but for a much deeper reason that wasn’t about baseball.

“This is about more than baseball,” Henngeler continued. “It’s about turning them into adults when they get to the real world.”

Henggeler let the players decide if they wanted to show up for their next game against the Imperial Longhorns on Sunday.

The Bulls showed up…

Elwood-Eustis played their doubleheader with the Longhorns and, while they didn’t win either game, they played the way parents and coaches expected. They played ball.

The Longhorns took a 2-10 win in the first of their games and the Bulls were able to close the scoring in the second game to just five runs, 3-8.

“They came ready to play,” said Henggeler of the team’s performance against the Longhorns on Sunday. “It was like a whole new team out there. I feel like they realized the big picture, which is to get better each day and not give up. Our success won’t be measured by a record this season and they understand that, now. Sunday, they looked like a baseball team with a lot of fight.”

Henggeler said he had a shift of his own in contrast to Friday’s games in Boelus… Pride.

“I was proud, Coach Martin and Coach Corkern were proud, the parents were proud and most importantly the players were proud.”

The Bulls will continue their season on Tuesday, June 18 when they travel for a doubleheader with Minden. Two five inning games are planned with first pitch at 5:30 p.m.

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