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Athlete Spotlight: Nyle Grove, Chase Toburen and Chris Hesse, Augusta Christian

Posted: May 17, 2017 - 1:36am
Nyle Grove, Chase Toburen and Chris Hesse, Augusta Christian’s three captains are graduating and heading off to college.

Nyle Grove, Chris Hesse and Chase Toburen graduate Saturday from Augusta Christian after finishing off a baseball season full of ups and downs.

The team held its first night baseball on campus this season. There was also a no-hitter. Also, there was a postseason appearance.

Sadly, there was also the untimely death of third baseman Drew Passmore, whose memory continues to live on throughout the Augusta area,

Hesse said he endured the proverbial roller coaster ride because of a great support group.

"I wouldn't have asked to go through it with anybody else than with these guys," Hesse said. "The group of guys we have is just awesome."

Grove, Hesse and Toburen - the team's three captains - helped the Lions finish at 8-12. The record might not look that impressive, but the team had several highlights.

On March 10, Augusta Christian held its first night game at the school. The Lions defeated rival Augusta Prep, 9-5.

One week later, Grove tossed a complete-game no-hitter. It happened the day before Passmore died.

Grove tossed 55 pitches the first two innings. The last five innings he threw 50.

"I was a little bit everywhere," Grove said of his shaky start. "The last five innings, I just relied on my defense."

In late April, Augusta Christian defeated Heathwood Hall to make the state playoffs. The Lions then dropped a pair of contests to Ben Lippen by three runs and six runs - closer games after they suffered a pair of double-digit defeats to their nemesis earlier in the season.

The biggest loss during the season, though, was the death of Passmore, the team's starting third baseman. Passmore hit .333 with two doubles in six games, but his main impact was made off the field. Toburen grew up with Passmore, the two attending first grade together.

"Spiritually, I learned a lot through it," Toburen said. "I've never really dealt with a death as serious or as this close before. It was definitely something to learn from. I was taught a lot through it."

Now, the three players have an eye on the future. Hesse and Toburen said their playing careers are likely over. They are each attending North Georgia and rooming together. Hesse, who hit a team-best .339 and also went 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA on the mound, is planning to major in business. Toburen, who hit .265 at the plate, said he plans to major in nursing before hopefully getting into dental school.

Grove, who went 1-2 with a 2.26 ERA, said he's planning to attend college to study mathematics and sports management. Where? He's unsure. Grove is still holding out hope of playing college baseball.

When they graduate from Augusta, Christian, Grove, Hesse and Toburen will leave behind their own respective legacies at the school. And they'll leave with an appreciation of learning more than just baseball.

"You know that your coaches care about you beyond the baseball field," Hesse said. "I think that's helped a lot."

 

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