HAMILTON - The Aviators took the field Wednesday afternoon at Hamilton, facing their first opponent since May 30th, 2019.
That last game, a heartbreaking loss to Turpin in the regional semi-final set expectations very high for Butler's 2020 season.
Unfortunately a season that was not to be.
"I still feel for the 2020 class because it would have been a special season," said Butler Head Coach Trent Dues.
As Dues and his Aviators look to the 2021 season, there is much to be optimistic about. Butler returns a solid core from that 2019 season, key newcomers coming off of solid summer seasons, and a few promising young players.
"This 2021 team has potential to be special as well," said Dues.
It certainly showed early and often against the host Big Blue, as the Aviators came away with a convincing 4-0 win.
Despite the layoff and time between this group playing together, the Aviators looked good in their debut.
Seniors Quinton Hall (2 ip), Kaden Echeman (2 ip), sophomore Evan Ables (2 ip) and freshman Jordan Taylor (0.2 ip) were solid on the mound, combining for a number of strikeouts.
Echeman led all Butler pitchers with six strikeouts, followed by Hall with five. Ables and Taylor each notched a strikeout.
Offensively, Butler made good contact at the plate and the Aviators ushered a couple of runs across the plate.
Senior Carson Clark went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Quinton Hall was also 2-for-3, while Mike Masters added an RBI in the win.
Reflecting on the return to the field after the game Wednesday, Dues summed it up best with an appropriate, glam metal reference.
"Don't know what you got til' it's gone," said Dues - quoting the 1988 hit by Cinderella. "That's how I would describe going to battle with the purple and gold again on the diamond - it was a long time coming."
"We showed some promise tonight," said Dues. "I saw a lot of good things, but also several things to keep working on."
The work will continue indeed.
The Aviators will get another tune-up in on Saturday, this one an 11:00 home scrimmage against an always formidable Centerville squad.
"The Elks will be a good test," said Dues.