Waynedale seniors go out with golden moment

Waynedale seniors go out with golden moment
Dave Mast

Waynedale’s five seniors, including Ian Lehman, left, Braden Hershberger, Jay Mast, Josiah Raber and Ean Miller, went out on top with Waynedale earning a 2-1 victory over Edison in the Div. III state finals.


While the Waynedale Golden Bears will reassemble this coming fall in preparing to defend their Div. III state baseball championship they earned with a 2-1 eight-inning thriller over Edison on June 11, five of the stars from that team will not return.

A quintet of seniors helped guide the Golden Bears to a stunning title, fashioning a 30-4 record that ended on a 26-game winning streak.

For those five seniors, there was no better way to go out than celebrating at Canal Park in the middle of the field after a walk-off single from Connor Gatti.

The five include catcher Josiah Raber, shortstop Ean Miller, right-fielder Jay Mast, first baseman Braden Hershberger and left-fielder Ian Lehman, who reveled in the aftermath of the bar-raising state championship effort they gave this season.

Ian Lehman

“We all love to play baseball. Everyone here wants to compete and to help each other out, but more than that, we are family and friends. We love being around each other, as well as our joy for the game, and when you have those two things like that, it goes well together.”

As for walking out champions, Lehman summed up the feeling.

“It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” he said. “For four years we’ve wanted to win our last game in high school. It’s happened.”

Ean Miller

“This is something special, so incredible. I love these guys. We are always all there for each other and care about each other.”

Jay Mast

“We can’t ask for a better way to go out. This is my family. We spend tons of hours together each and every day and play with great chemistry. We’ve learned how to play with emotion but to hide that emotion and focus on the game, and to above all play for each other.”

As for playing on the big stage and maintaining those emotions, Mast gave all the credit to head coach Lucas Daugherty for instilling that trait in the entire team.

“I think that gave us that razor edge that took us to the next level,” Mast said. “This is now nothing but joy, and I couldn’t ask for a better group to end this with.”

Josiah Raber

A three-sport star, Raber said leaving his high school career celebrating a state title on the final day was worth all of the time, energy and effort he and his teammates poured into honing their skills.

“This is the way to leave your career and to leave a mark as a senior class as a whole, to set the bar this high and to bring home the first championship,” Raber said. “It’s something we’ll never forget.”

Braden Hershberger

“Since our freshman year when we all came up to dress for the tournament, we have been together, and we’ve had our season end on a loss. That was tough. This, this is something special that we can share forever.”

Hershberger said he remembered watching the 2016 state runner-up Golden Bears play at state as a sixth-grader and seeing them as players he someday aspired to be. He said he and his senior teammates wanted to set great examples for the younger talent to aspire to.

“Ever since then we knew we had a solid core of us, and we all were always around the game, and we clicked,” Hershberger said. “I think we thrived on that leadership role because we understood the importance of that, having seen it as sixth-graders.”

The Golden Bears ended with the long winning streak, only adding to the legendary aura this team has created.

These five seniors went a long way in making all of the work and dedication pay off with a title, and their head coach said he could never express enough thanks to his quintet of seniors who led the way to the ultimate trophy.

“These five guys have been awesome for the program. All five are starters, all five contributed heavily and they had great senior seasons,” Daugherty said.

“But most importantly, they are all great leaders and incredible young men. We constantly talk about composure, and it all starts with those five guys. They have definitely left their mark on this program.”

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