Truth be told, the Blue Devils weren’t playing exclusively for themselves Saturday in Greensboro.
That historic first baseball state championship claimed by members of the Mooresville team wasn’t just for them, or the high school for that matter.
An array of emotions filled the UNC Greensboro field after Mooresville made the final out to clinch the 4A title. Sure there were the smiles, high-fives and hugs.
There were also tears: some of joy; others of remembrance.
The two-game sweep over Wendell’s Corinth Holders in the best-of-3 finals fulfilled a wish transcending sports.
“We wanted to bring something home for the community, give them something to cheer about in a time of sorrow,” senior shortstop Blake Burchett said.
The championship came in the wake of last month’s tragic death of Mooresville Police K9 Unit Officer Jordan Sheldon.
Sheldon, 32, was shot and killed during a traffic stop May 4.
His memory continues to be on the hearts and in the minds of community members as well as the baseball team. They’ve found ways to honor that memory.
“We had a sticker with Officer Sheldon and his K9 dog on it with the words ‘end of watch,’ ” Burchett said. “We’ve played with that in our back pockets.”
The Blue Devils’ remarkable playoff run—six of their eight wins were against higher seeded teams—began three days after Sheldon’s death.
Senior catcher Davis Turner echoed Burchett when he noted Sheldon’s passing impacted them and rocked the town of Mooresville and its police department.
“Mooresville PD has given such strong support to us,” Turner said. “We had to do something in return.”
The state championship capped a 24-9 season. The Blue Devils returned to a hero’s welcome late Saturday night.
Officer Sheldon’s K9 unit vehicle, operated by Officer Dan Walther, met the team’s charter bus at the Mooresville town limits as part of a police escort back to the high school.
A story of triumph and tribute.