GEORGE | PRP baseball pushes for sixth state title
PRP's baseball team has a chance to win 40 games before the season ends. A victory in the state semifinals Friday and a win in the title game Saturday would hit that mark and give the Panthers its sixth state championship.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Pleasure Ridge Park’s baseball team is two games away from winning its sixth state championship in school history.
The last time PRP went to the state tournament was in 2013, the same year they won the title. But getting back to the tournament this season has been a different process, different for the players and different for legendary coach Bill Miller.
Players on this year’s PRP team have heard stories of what it’s like to win a state championship.
"My brother was on the 2013 team, and when they were there it was unbelievable," said junior first baseman Matthew Cavanaugh. "So I can't imagine what my brother felt like, and I just want that feeling too."
"Obviously, not being a part of the 2013 team, you don't get that experience being there, but it's really something special," said junior pitcher Garret Schmeltz.
The current players may not know what it’s like to win a state title, but the winningest high school baseball coach in the state of Kentucky does. Head coach Bill Miller has won five titles in his tenure at PRP.
"It's like you’re playing for Babe Ruth, some kind a legend that everybody knows about," Cavanaugh said.
"As a person, I really look up to him now, because for him to have that much drive and determination to get another state championship, it's something I would like to carry on," Schmeltz said.
But number six would be unlike any other.
"It would mean everything, because you know this possibly could be the last state championship that he wins," junior third baseman Nick Rucker said. "And we just want to give that to him."
In 2015, Miller was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
"I tell my friends I feel like that I'm the boy who cried wolf," Miller said. "You know I have stage four lung cancer, I still have it and I don't know if you ever get rid of it completely, but I've been very blessed ... God's been good to me."
After hearing the news from his doctor, Miller made a commitment to himself and to PRP. He decided to stay on as head baseball coach. He’s now in his second season after his diagnosis.
"Now you don't just respect him as a coach, you respect him as a person and as a fighter because you know how tough he had to be to do it," Cavanaugh said.
"Well you know every day I'm here ," Miller said. "I don't do as much as I used to, but it's still important to me to be here with them."
When thinking about what a sixth title would mean, Miller chokes up.
"It would mean more to me, for them, than for me," he said.
PRP will face McCracken County in the semi-finals of the state tournament at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Lexington. The winner will play in the state championship oat 1 p.m. Saturday.
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