Softball players Regan, Pope joined the 2022 Manson baseball squad

Courtesy Hayli Thompson The 2022 Manson High School Baseball team coached by Travis Schoenwald, Bill Thompson and Brett La Mar.

Devan Regan, junior

Raven Pope, senior

MANSON - “Let’s go, guys!”

Inevitably, baseball coaches across America have uttered variations of that phrase to their players on countless occasions. The baseball coaches at Manson are no different. Only this year, they had to slightly modify their direct addresses. With not enough girls to form a Trojan fast pitch team, softball players Devan Regan and Raven Pope joined the Manson baseball squad for the 2022 season, adding a different dynamic but fitting in seamlessly. 

“It was never like we had girls on the team. It was like we just had two other players. Sometimes when we’d address the team we’d say, ‘guys’ and then have to say ‘and girls.’ That was the only thing, really,” Manson head coach Bill Thompson said. “They just fit right in with all the other kind of kids we get too. We get the whole gamut of kids. We get Hispanics. We get Caucasians. We get kids in special ed. We get them all. It’s just great. That’s what we’ve always been.”

Since taking over the baseball program, Thompson prioritized the individual player over talent. That’s the Manson way. Coaching and teaching will come later, but if a student wants to play, he, or she, will get that chance with the Trojans. 

“We get players that really don’t or can’t play any other sport. They get an opportunity in baseball,” Thompson said. “If you can run, you can run the bases. If you can catch a fly ball, you can play in the outfield. We’ve had some players in the past with real challenges that have had success on the team.”

Both Regan and Pope brought their own skill sets to a Trojan team that eventually made the playoffs. Thompson described Regan as a “softball player at heart.” She loved the sport so much that she couldn’t stand missing a season. If that meant playing baseball for a year, so be it. Thompson described her as a solid fielder and lauded her commitment to the team. She never missed any games, meetings or practices. Regan played second base for Manson and laid down some timely bunts throughout the season which led to some key wins. Trojans assistant coach Brett La Mar, who recently retired from the team, described Regan as Manson’s “secret weapon.” He was impressed by how both girls buoyed the Trojans’ season. 

“They really became an integral part of the team and played some great roles during the season,” LaMar said. “They never shirked from anything we asked them to do. They played with vigor. Every boy on our team would tip their hat to them.  They stood up there against some of the best pitchers in the league.” 

Pope, on the other hand, found herself in a unique and royal position. Prior to the season, she was named a 2022 Manson Apple Blossom princess. Thompson described her as essentially a dual-sport athlete, which he has had on his team before. Due to her many Apple Blossom commitments, Pope was only able to be with the Trojans about 70 percent of the time, but made the most of her opportunities. She played outfield for Manson and made Thompson laugh with her enormous glove. 

“It looks like it’s illegal, it’s so big,” Thompson said, remarking on some of the nice catches she made. “I don’t know where she got it. I used to kid her about it.”

He added that Pope took on almost a celebrity status with the Trojans as she was, in a sense, the face of Manson during the Apple Blossom festivities. Often she’d have to leave practice for photo shoots and other activities. 

“We’ve never had a princess on our team before, that’s for sure. You’d see her on the float in the parade and everything and you’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s our right fielder right there,’” Thompson said. “She encompasses what Manson is all about. You don’t just do one thing in Manson. You do a lot of different things. You play baseball. You’re a princess. You’re in Knowledge Bowl. You do it all.”

Neither girl will play for the Trojans next year. Pope has graduated. Regan will return to the softball squad which should have enough players to fill out the roser. Thompson said he will miss their presence in the program, but knows that the doors are always ajar for anyone who wants to play baseball for the Manson Trojans. 

“It’s always been that kind of atmosphere on our team. It’s just been a very open arms. Whatever your skill level is, it doesn’t matter,” Thompson said. “We’ve had guys that can’t barely catch anything. We just try to find a spot that’s successful for whatever you bring. And I think that’s why we’ve always had really good team chemistry on our team.”

“That’s the way we decided to do it. We’re all teammates,” La Mar added. “We all wear the same uniform. We all have Manson across the front of our uniforms. That’s what we represent and that’s who we are.”


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