For Beavers, the end was disappointing but the season certainly wasn't

For Beavers, the end was disappointing but the season certainly wasn't

The glorious Oregon State baseball season ended in very disappointing fashion Saturday. But it wasn't a disappointing season.

It was still a season to be proud of -- a regular season that likely will never be matched at that school or any other. Baseball isn't the kind of game that leads to such seasons. Anybody can beat anybody on a given day. And we saw that in the College World Series, when a whole lot of things went wrong at the same time for the Beavers.

On Friday, OSU could have put away LSU had an umpire not mistakenly called a foul ball on a long drive off the left-field wall by Stephen Kwan. Yes, Pat Casey should have asked for a replay of it, but managing  a game is tough enough without having to umpire it, too. I still cannot understand how an umpire, standing on the foul line, could have possibly missed that call. It couldn't happen one in a hundred times. Seemingly the entire CWS went downhill after that for Oregon State.

On Saturday, the Beavers allowed the Tigers too many runs early in what was an elimination game. Getting down by a couple of runs is one thing, but any more than that in a pressurized game is too difficult to overcome. And yes, there was the umpiring again. The plate umpire had no idea where the outside corner of the plate was and LSU took much more advantage of his poor eyesight than did the Beavers. Constantly, the OSU hitters were called out on third strikes that challenged the batter's box on the other side of the plate. Even in the ninth inning, when the first two players reached base and it appeared Oregon State -- if any team in the country could do it -- was poised for a miracle rally, the umpire's urge to make the dramatic "strike three" call popped up again.

I'm seeing Oregon State fans rising up in anger at everyone over their team's elimination but I'd advise them to calm down a bit. Remember, this team didn't show up in Omaha with the same squad that was responsible for the sparkling regular-season record. The coaching staff did a remarkable job of juggling its pitching staff and lineup to make up for absences. And there is no doubt this program has a real chance to have an even better team next season.

Not a better record, though. That just can't happen again. But it could be a better team and I'm sure Casey will have a terrific recruiting year built on this season's success.

It was an incredible season and should be remembered that way -- regardless of the ending.

The Beavers' control of the strike zone has been amazing

The Beavers' control of the strike zone has been amazing

Oregon State doesn't have the most experienced team in the College World Series. Certainly it didn't have the most draft picks in the recent June free agent draft.

But it owns the corners of the plate on offense and defense and that's been a major key to its success.

Beaver hitters are among the most disciplined I've ever seen at anything below the major-league level. They don't chase bad pitches. They are not afraid to hit with two strikes on them. They work counts and run up pitch counts to a degree that is wrecking pitching staffs.

Monday night against LSU, the Beavers were struggling against reliever Caleb Gilbert in the third and fourth inning. Gilbert struck out four of the first six hitters he faced. But then the Beavers dug in and started doing what they do best on offense -- grinding out at bats, fouling pitches off, taking close pitches off the plate and extending at bats and innings.

Gilbert managed to last two and two-thirds innings but needed 68 pitches to do it. He allowed a couple of unearned runs -- but as we've seen with the Beavers, if you make an error or mental mistake against them, they'll usually make you pay for it. A good part of that is their patience at the plate. And that's something so difficult to teach or coach. You can't just tell players to swing at only good pitches. That kind of discipline comes through countless hours of work -- learning the strike zone, learning the pitches you can hit and the ones you can't and simply being willing to sacrifice yourself at certain times to be willing to take more pitches than you might wish.

LSU used seven pitchers to get through the final seven innings of the game and they combined to throw a whopping 173 pitches -- yes, in seven innings! That kind of workload destroys pitching staffs. We saw OSU do the same thing to Cal-Fullerton in the first game of the CWS and to Vanderbilt in the Super Regionals -- where the Beavers broke first-round draft pick Kyle Wright's resolve with their patience.

Meanwhile, Oregon State starter Bryce Fehmel was creating another masterpiece on the mound. He used only 108 pitches through eight innings, walked three and allowed a paltry two hits. Fehmel is an artist at working the corners and changing speeds, throwing off hitters' timing and messing with their minds. He made it look easy and it wasn't. The Tigers have a terrific offensive team, loaded with speed and power, and Fehmel had them eating out of his right hand.

It was yet another spectacular game for the Beavers, who continue to pile them up. Now, with three days of rest, pitching coach Nate Yeskie will have all his arms rested and ready to go for a game Friday that could vault OSU into the best-of-three championship round. He can choose between Jake Thompson or Drew Rasmussen as his starter and has a bullpen so fresh that many of the best have yet to throw a pitch in the CWS.

And as long as the Beavers continue to control the strike zone, they're going to be a tough team to beat.

LSU brings a solid starting pitcher and a lot of speed to today's CWS matchup vs. Beavers

LSU brings a solid starting pitcher and a lot of speed to today's CWS matchup vs. Beavers

We know all about Oregon State by now. The winning streaks. The nearly impossible feat of getting this far into a baseball season with just four losses. But what about today's opponent, the LSU Tigers? Here is a quick look at what they'll bring to today's battle of 1-0 College World Series teams:

  • The Tigers will start freshman right-hander Eric Walker (8-1, 3.46 ERA, 93.2 IP, 78 K, 23 BB) on the mound. Walker did not pitch in the Super Regionals but won big games in the team's conference tournament and regional. He's much like OSU starter Bryce Fehmel in that he's not overpowering. He changes speeds and keeps hitters off balance. He apparently has overcome some arm "tightness" that kept him out of the Super Regionals. Alex Lange, the LSU ace who was drafted in the first round last week, pitched the team's opening game of the CWS.
  • LSU has a terrific bullpen, featuring setup man Zach Hess, a hard thrower who has allowed only one earned run over his last nine appearances, and closer Hunter Newman.
  • The Beavers have a 22-game win streak but the Tigers bring a win streak of their own into this game -- 17 games, during which they've averaged more than eight runs a game and allowed fewer than three earned runs per game. LSU has come from behind to win five of its six postseason games. There is little question that these are the two hottest teams in the country.
  • The Tigers have plenty of speed and like to pressure the defense into mistakes with it. That will be interesting, because the Beaver defense has survived all attempts to do that. Running foolishly against Oregon State can be a futile pursuit.
  • The team that wins this game has a HUGE advantage in getting to the championship round of this tournament. It will not play again until Friday -- a chance for the entire pitching staff to get fully rested -- and a win Friday would wrap up a berth in the best-of-three championship round. The team that loses today's game must win three straight games to get to the title round.
  • Beaver Coach Pat Casey had this to say about the Tigers: “(LSU is) just so athletic, I mean, it’s unbelievable the guys that they’re running out there. Then you run arms out there. (Zack Hess) came in there last night … and he was 94, 95 (mph fastball) with an 85 mph slider. I don’t know if there’s a more talented team in the World Series.”
  • It would be expected that the first man out of the bullpen for the Beavers would be Drew Rasmussen, who threw an inning in Saturday's win over Cal-Fullerton. If the Beavers can pick up a win over LSU, No. 1 starter Jake Thompson would be fully rested for the Friday game.

Beavers roar back to defeat Titans 6-5 in CWS opener

Beavers roar back to defeat Titans 6-5 in CWS opener

Hey Omaha, that's what a 55-4 team looks like.

Oregon State shrugged off an early 5-1 deficit and kept grinding Saturday afternoon and pulled out a 6-5 win over Cal-Fullerton. And, as so often is the case for the Beavers, it was near-perfect relief pitching and clutch, two-out hits that made the difference.

"We just battled," Coach Pat Casey said. "That's what we've done all year -- just keep battling."

Trevor Larnach hit a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to pull OSU within a run and then Jack Anderson followed with another single to tie the game and cap a four-run rally. Catcher Adley Rutschman lined a two-out single in the eighth to plate the winning run. Freshman left-hander Jake Mulhullond got the win after four and one-third innings of hitless relief and Drew Rasmussen saved it with a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth.

"At the end of games we find ways to win," said Rutschman, who made a terrific diving catch of a popped-up bunt in the sixth.

The Beavers move on to meet the winner of Saturday night's LSU-Florida State game Monday at 4 p.m. Casey said following the game that right-hander Bryce Fehmel will start that game with Rasmussen available for relief duty.

Oregon State's Saturday starter was touched for all three of the Titan hits and all five runs. "Too amped up," Casey said. "He was a little too excited."

 

College World Series: Beavers the favorites, but the road isn't easy

College World Series: Beavers the favorites, but the road isn't easy

Pac-12 Championship. Check.

No.1 overall national seed. Check .

Advance through the Regionals. Check.

Sweep the Super Regionals, punch ticket to Omaha. Check.

Win the College World Series. To be determined.

The Oregon State Beavers (54-4) arrive in Omaha this week riding a 21-game win streak, and as heavy favorites to win the College World Series (CWS) Championship. Joining them in Nebraska will be Florida, LSU, Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Louisville, Texas A&M, and TCU.

-- A full schedule can be found here --

The Beavers’ road to another title starts on Saturday when they take on Cal State Fullerton (39-22).  In six postseason games the Titans have outscored their opponents 35-9, and have allowed just one run over their last 25 innings. The Titans have one of the better pitching staffs in the country with a 3.57 ERA, the 23rd best in the nation. However, it pales in comparison to the incredible numbers Oregon State has put up. The Beavers lead the nation with an amazing 1.80 ERA. That’s nearly two runs better than Fullerton’s, and a full run better than Louisville’s 2.85, which is the third best in the country.

It still remains to be seen if Oregon State’s Luke Heimlich will pitch in the CWS. Heimlich holds the best ERA of any pitcher in the nation, at 0.76, but is dealing with off-the-field issues stemming from a sexual molestation charge prior to his arrival at Oregon State.

With or without Heimlich, the Oregon State pitching staff is a force to be reckoned with. Fellow starting pitcher Jake Thompson has the nation’s fifth best ERA at 1.58, and Bryce Fehmel showed he can be leaned on in Omaha after a great spot start against Vanderbilt; a complete game victory where he allowed just one earned run on five hits.

As Eric Sorenson of D1Baseball.com pointed out on Monday’s edition of Talkin’ Ball, this early matchup with the Titans holds a lot of intrigue. These are two teams that could match up in the finals if they were in opposite brackets. So right out of the gate Oregon State will be tested. 

As noted above, Oregon State by far has the better pitching staff, and as Sorenson notes, they also are the better hitting team. All things on paper point to Oregon State getting past Fullerton, but as we all know, games aren’t played on paper, they are played on a diamond.

Depending on if they win or lose, Oregon State will play either LSU (48-17) or Florida State (45-21).

LSU is riding an Oregon State-esque hot streak. The Tigers have won 16 games in a row, outscoring opponents 136-45 in that stretch, and overall has won 21 of its last 23. LSU reminds you a lot of this Beavers squad: Great pitching (3.53 team ERA), great hitting (2.94 team batting average), and lots of grit. Could the Tigers be the ones to take out OSU?

Facing off againt LSU: The Florida State Seminoles. Florida State falls in line with many of the teams heading to Omaha in that they got their on the backs of their pitching staff. Returning to the CWS for the first time since 2012, the Seminoles have the 36th best ERA in the nation at 3.72. The team has allowed 18 runs this postseason, with their starters allowing just nine runs in 48 innings pitched. Strong pitching is definitely a theme this year in Omaha.

On the other side of the CWS bracket are Florida (47-18), Louisville (52-10), Texas A&M (41-21), and TCU (47-16).

Florida returns to Omaha for the third season in a row, but is still looking for that elusive championship.  Could this be the year for the Gators? Florida leads the nation in one run victories, with 18, and has already played three extra inning games this postseason. The Gators have a flair for the dramatic and like to keep things interesting to say the least.  Their team 3.22 ERA, the 22nd best in the country, helps them out, but they will need a little more from their offense for the Gators fan base to breath a little.

Their first opponent, TCU, has quickly become one of the best programs in the nation. The Horned Frogs are appearing in their fourth straight College Worlds Series, and fifth in program history. Their pitching staff has the worst ERA of any team in the CWS (3.99), but their .272 team batting average is one of the best in the CWS. Their solid hitters should make for some good matchups with the better pitching staffs in Omaha.

Moving on, we have Texas A&M. The Aggies return to the CWS for the first time since 2011, and behind some solid arms could make it all the way. A&M has the 15th best ERA in the nation at 3.42, and starting pitcher Brigham Hill has been a stud this postseason. The Aggies have a good baseball team, however, their first game is against a very tough Louisville team. It will be a great chance to see if A&M will sink or swim.

Speaking of Louisville, the Cardinals, like Oregon State, are heavy favorites to get through their bracket and play in the championship. Much like the Beavers, the Cardinals are extremely balanced both in the batter's box and on the mound. They have the third best ERA in the country (2.85), and the 67th best batting average (.289). The 67th best average may not sound like much, but that is the third best average of the eight teams in the CWS.

Louisville vs. Oregon State in the CWS championship seems like a good bet. Not only would it be the matchup we all want to see, it would make for some of the best baseball games you can imagine. But this is Omaha. This is the College World Series. You never know what will happen at TD Ameritrade Park.

--Schedule update per the press release from the NCAA--

 “The first game this Saturday is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CT, and will feature Cal State Fullerton (39-22) against No. 1 national seed Oregon State (54-4). Saturday’s second game features No. 4 national seed LSU (48-17) against Florida State (45-21), and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT.

The Sunday doubleheader features the No. 7 national seed Louisville (52-10) vs. Texas A&M (41-21) at 1 p.m. CT. In the evening game starting at 6 p.m. CT, No. 6 national seed TCU (47-16) will be squaring off against No. 3 national seed Florida (47-18).

The losers of Saturday’s two games will play at 1 p.m. CT Monday, June 19. While Saturday’s winners face off at 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 19.

The losers of Sunday’s games will play each other at 1 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 20. Sunday’s winners will meet Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m. CT. The winners of the two brackets will play a best-of-three College World Series Finals, with the first game set for 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 26. The second game is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 27, while the third and deciding game (if necessary) is slated for 7 p.m. CT Wednesday, June 28.”

For more information visit ncca.com

Beavers, Titans open CWS on Saturday

Beavers, Titans open CWS on Saturday

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton will open the College World Series Saturday with a 2 p.m. CT (12 p.m. in Oregon) start at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
 
The game will air on ESPN and is also available online at WatchESPN.com for subscribers.
 
It will mark the first matchup between the teams since the 2007 College World Series, a game won by the Beavers en route to their second consecutive national championship.
 
Oregon State takes a 54-4 overall record into the game, while Cal State Fullerton is 39-22 after winning at Long Beach State in an NCAA Super Regional.
 
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Inside Bryce Fehmel's "out of nowhere" OSU pitching performance

Inside Bryce Fehmel's "out of nowhere" OSU pitching performance

Oregon State has piled incredible on top of amazing one game after another this season on the way to its berth in the College World Series, culminated by its 9-2 win Saturday night over Vanderbilt to close out a Super Regional.

But incredible and amazing arrived at the game together Saturday night in Corvallis.

The Beavers won behind the pitching efforts of sophomore right-hander Bryce Fehmel, who went the distance and allowed just one earned run, five hits, no walks while striking out 10 and using just 104 pitches. That's the same Bryce Fehmel who had a terrific season as a frosh, but who had been all but forgotten the second half of this season. He hadn't gotten a starting assignment since May 6, dropped from the rotation as Drew Rasmussen returned from Tommy John surgery. Fehmel wasn't even starting the mid-week, non-conference games.

"We never dreamed he would go nine," Coach Pat Casey said after the game. "I don't know how long it's been since he had a start but he was so good that I almost fell asleep. He was fantastic. I went out to make a (position-player) change and the umpire said, 'I hope you're not taking that pitcher out.' He did say that. I think (Fehmel) should be a poker player. You ask him how he's doing and it's the same every time. Wow, what a game to pitch in that situation against that club.

"It was an absolute warrior mentality from him."

Vanderbilt Coach Tm Corbin said, "He was mixing his pitches and getting ahead of hitters. He was pitching."

Fehmel was asked where that performance came from.

"Out of nowhere. I don't know," he said. "I've been ready to be in this situation... I was ready for the moment.

"It was part of the scouting report going into the game -- do the best I could to keep the batters off balance and it worked out for the whole game."

Fehmel has a nice assortment of off-speed stuff, breaking balls and when he's right, can spot his fastball. But he isn't overpowering. He doesn't blow anyone away with a 95 mph fastball. But everything was working for him against the Commodores and he had some help from his dugout. Pitching coach Nate Yeskie called every pitch and Fehmel didn't shake off a single call. And make no mistake, that's a critical part of getting a pitcher through a game like this one.

"Coach Yeskie just does a fabulous job," Casey said "He has such a good feel for his pitchers. He really called a great game tonight. Spectacular."

Moving forward to the CWS, the Beavers -- who will likely be without Luke Heimlich -- are going to need more spectacular pitching performances from unsuspected places. It's going to take at least three starting pitchers (and possibly more) just to get through to the best-of-three championship round. If the team loses a game, a fourth starter will likely have to step up. It's expected Rasmussen will join the rotation with Jake Thompson, the nation's winningest pitcher. Fehmel has earned a starting shot now, too. But someone else is very likely going to have to step up at some point in Omaha.

And with the way this season has gone so far for the 54-4 Beavers, that someone -- whomever he is -- WILL step up.

Beavers' magical season continues with Super Regional win over Vandy

Beavers' magical season continues with Super Regional win over Vandy

CORVALLIS – Next stop on Oregon State’s magic carpet ride of a season is Omaha and the College World Series.

The Beavers found some magic Saturday night as they blew past Vanderbilt 9-2 to capture their Super Regional in two straight games and hike their latest winning streak to 21 games.

The tourney's top seed will take an eye-popping season record of 54-4 into the eight-team World Series and meet the winner of the Long Beach State-Cal Fullerton Super Regional in their first game.

Heroes? How about sophomore right-hander Bryce Fehmel, making his first start since May 6? He went the distance, allowed five hits, just one earned run, fanned 10 and didn't walk a batter. It was an amazing performance from a pitcher who had been all but forgotten over the latter part of the season.

And what about KJ  Harrison, who hammered a three-run homer to get the Beavers going in the third? It was his second three-run big fly in two nights.

The Beavers got four runs on five hits in a marathon third inning, capped by Harrison’s three-run clout into the high bleachers in left field.

Adley Rutschman opened the inning with a sharp single to right and moved to second on Christian Donahue’s groundout. With two out, Steven Kwan lined a single to center to score Rutschman with the first run of the game.

Nick Madrigal followed with an infield single to set up Harrison. The OSU first baseman then crushed a 2-1 pitch for his second three-run homer in as many nights.

Donahue actually may have provided some momentum for that inning with a spectacular catch leaping against the left-field wall in the second. It was a terrific play with the ball and Donahue arriving at the fence at the same crashing moment.

Fehmel allowed a lead-off double to open the bottom of the third, but pitched his way out of the inning without allowing the runner to advance –- a shutdown inning.

The Commodores got to Fehmel in the sixth for two runs, one of them unearned and by then the Beavers were lacking in baserunners. After getting five hits in the third, they got only one more over the next three innings.

But OSU came back in the top of the seventh to load the bases on two infield hits and a walk, getting Harrison to the plate with two outs. The Oregon State first baseman fell behind on the count 0-2 but worked a walk to force in OSU’s fifth run. That was the end of the line for Vanderbilt’s much-heralded starter Kyle Wright, who has been tabbed as a possible No. 1 pick in Monday’s baseball draft.

Trevor Larnach then grounded a single up the middle to plate two more runs and the Beavers had a 7-2 lead -- a three-run, two-out rally immediately after the Commodores had put two on the board.

But the Beavers weren't done. Cadyn Grenier smacked a triple to deep right-center field in the eighth to drive in two more runs and the lead was 9-2.

Heimlich: It's not about baseball, it's about punishment and rehabilitation

Heimlich: It's not about baseball, it's about punishment and rehabilitation

CORVALLIS -- Of all the questions surrounding the Luke Heimlich situation at Oregon State, the one that befuddles me the most is "How long?"

Nobody yet has been able to give me much of an answer.

And by "How long?" I mean how long must somebody who admitted guilt to a molestation at the age of 15 pay for his crime? Is it 10 years? Twenty years? Life? Honestly, I have no idea.

The whole concept of a juvenile justice system is to understand that youngsters make mistakes. Sometimes serious ones. Often those mistakes can be attributed to cultural, economic or familial influences that youths cannot control. And as kids, they are allowed a chance to move on from those and have a productive life. Heimlich is now 21 years old and, by all accounts, has done just fine as a student at Oregon State and has complied with all the stipulations of his plea agreement.

Or, as his coach, Pat Casey, put it: "I can just tell you that he's a fine young man and for every second he's been on this campus, on and off the field, he's been a first-class individual -- someone that his family should be proud of, the community should be proud of and our team is proud of him. I believe in Luke."

This isn't about baseball, it's about a young man who is, to the best of our knowledge, doing all he can to rehabilitate himself. I don't know Heimlich well enough to say I believe in him. I don't know him at all. But I believe in the concept of giving people a chance to atone for their mistakes and move forward with a productive life -- particularly when it's a juvenile. But as you know, the courts decide punishment but society also weighs in on the subject -- and public opinion can be more harsh than a judge.

I don't pretend to have all the answers in a situation like this. And as I said, this isn't about baseball, it's more about juvenile offenders and their rehabilitation. So I go back to the original question:

You tell me -- if Heimlich doesn't belong on this team, when does he? What are his rights as a student? What are his privileges as a student? When, exactly, does punishment end and rehabilitation begin?

And most pertinent, who is supposed to make those calls?

UPDATED: Thompson, Harrison key Beavers' win to open Super Regional

UPDATED: Thompson, Harrison key Beavers' win to open Super Regional

UPDATED WITH QUOTES

CORVALLIS – Right-hander Jake Thompson, thrust into the role of No. 1 starter, ran his season record to 14-0 Friday night as the Beavers defeated Vanderbilt 8-4 in Goss Stadium. It was the 53-4 Beavers' 20th consecutive win.

"Thompson was really, really good," OSU Coach Pat Casey said afterward. "If we catch a ball there for him he gives up only one run and that's a really good team there."

Oregon State took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with the win. The series continues Saturday night at 6 o'clock.

The Beavers struck first, getting on the board in the first inning on K.J. Harrison’s three-run homer to left field. But the Commodores bounced right back for three of their own in the top of the second, aided by a misjudged fly ball in left field by Christian Donohue.

"It was nice to get off to that good start," Casey said. "I thought we played with a lot of energy tonight."

Oregon State came back in the bottom of that inning, tallying two runs on Nick Madrigal’s two-out double down the left-field line.

"My hand is fine," said Madrigal, who had been bothered with a painful bone bruise after being hit by a pitch in conference play. "I'm good. No worries."

The Beavers added another run in the fifth when Trevor Larnach singled home Steven Kwan to make the score 6-3. Will Toffey got that run back for Vandy with a towering solo homer in the seventh.

Oregon State scored two more in the eighth on a single by Cadyn Grenier and a sacrifice fly by Kwan.

Thompson allowed four runs, seven hits, fanned seven and walked two before departing with two outs in the eighth. Sam Tweedt came on with a runner at second in the ninth and shut the Commodores down to seal the win.

OSU left-hander Luke Heimlich, the Beavers' ace all season, was originally expected to be the starting pitcher but, following the disclosure of his admission of guilt in a child molestation case as a 15-year-old, his participation has become a hot-button issue. Heimlich was required to register as a sex offender because of that incident.

Casey would not name a starting pitcher for Saturday's game and offered Drew Rasmussen and Bryce Fehmel as possibilities, as well as most of his bullpen.When asked about the availability of Heimlich through the rest of the series Casey said, "That's his decision. He's a team guy and he said he didn't want to be a distraction. I can just tell you that he's a fine young man and for every second he's been on this campus, on and off the field, he's been a first-class individual -- someone that his family should be proud of, the community should be proud of and our team is proud of him. I believe in Luke."

Heimlich was in uniform and introduced with the rest of his teammates prior to the game  He issued this statement Friday:

STATEMENT OF LUKE HEIMLICH

I have taken responsibility for my conduct when I was a teenager . As a 16 year old,  I was placed on juvenile court probation and ordered to participate in an individual counseling program.

I’m grateful for the counseling I received, and since then, I realized that the only way forward was to work each day on becoming the best person, community member and student I can possibly be.

I understand that many people now see me differently, but I hope that I can eventually be judged for the person I am today.

I’m so proud of our team’s accomplishment and don’t want to be a distraction. Therefore, I’ve respectfully requested to be excused from playing.

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