For Pope catcher and first baseman Jackson Brown, the 2020 season was one of redemption.
After winning the Class AAAAAA state championship as a freshman and sophomore, the Greyhounds fell short in 2019, and Brown said he and his teammates had made a vow not to let it happen again.
“My and my buddies, the other seniors, ever since we lost it, we vowed that (2020) was going to be our year,” he said.
When the season came to an abrupt end in the middle of March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope had just begun to hit its stride.
It had a 9-4 record and was a half-game back in the Region 7AAAAAA standings. The Greyhounds had gone 8-2 over their last 10, averaging eight runs a game.
Brown, who was a four-year letterman, two-time Perfect Game All-American honorable mention and a national top-500 prospect, said he and his teammates knew the season was likely over at that time, but the official announcement of its cancellation in April did not make things any easier.
“It was really sad,” Brown said. “I’ve texted my teammates and told them I loved them. We’re all slowly dealing with it.
Brown said he felt the premature end of the season was especially hard on a few of his senior teammates who would not be continuing their careers in college.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said.
For Brown, he will continue playing at Jacksonville State University. He said the Gamecocks’ coaches have told him to continue playing both of his regular positions at Pope and to try playing some outfield.
“Coach (Jim Case) said he doesn’t exactly know where I’m going to play yet,” Brown said, “but he wants my bat in the lineup.”
Brown said he had numerous offers to play at the next level, but it was at Jacksonville State where he felt most at home.
“It’s close to home,” he said. “I wanted to stay in the Southeast, and it’s only about two hours away. They have one of the nicest complexes I’ve seen, and they just finished the new weight room. The coaches are cool, and when I first got there, I just knew this is where I wanted to go.”
Brown is undecided on what he wants to study but he said he would be interested in becoming a scout at the college or professional level. He also said he knows he will appreciate the chance to put on a uniform again.
“Definitely,” Brown said. “This season was such a reality check.”