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Millard West's Max Anderson perched at the top of a baseball season that never happened

By By Mike Patterson World-Herald staff writer, 05/28/20, 9:45AM CDT


He never got one hit this spring.

On the other hand, he never made an out.

Millard West senior shortstop Max Anderson recently was named the state’s Gatorade player of the year despite the cancellation of the varsity season because of COVID-19. It’s an honor that Anderson, a Texas A&M signee, concedes is a bit unusual.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “But it’s kind of hard for me to feel that I’m deserving since we didn’t even play.”

Wildcat coach Steve Frey said the award, presented to top athletes in all 50 states, still was going to be presented this spring despite the absence of games.

“They based it on his stats from last season,” he said. “And everything else Max brings to our team.”

The award annually recognizes the nation’s most outstanding student-athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character. Frey said Anderson checks the boxes in each of those categories.

“Max is a great kid on and off the diamond,” he said. “He’s very talented and a great teammate but he’s also very humble.”

Anderson helped lead the Wildcats to their first state title last season. He batted .353, led the state in home runs (10) and was co-captain of the All-Nebraska team.

With the return of several players from that championship squad, Millard West had a solid chance to repeat. But the coronavirus intervened.

“It’s been a really weird feeling,” Anderson said. “It’s super disappointing because we had a great team coming back.”

He said he has done his best to stay in shape under stay-at-home recommendations.

“My dad and I built a baseball cage downstairs and I’ve been hitting whiffle balls off a tee,” he said. “I’ve also been working the weights.”

Anderson will be a member of Millard West’s American Legion team that has been cleared to start practicing Monday, per Gov. Pete Ricketts’ COVID-19 guidelines.

“We can’t wait to get out there,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to get us off the field.”

Anderson said because of his college commitment that he might have to leave the team early this summer. Games during the shortened Legion season will begin June 18 and conclude July 31.

“I might be heading down to A&M around the Fourth of July,” he said. “Some things are still up in the air so there’s a chance I’ll be here for the whole season.”

Anderson added that the loss of his senior season had an effect on him.

“I didn’t realize how much I love this game until it was taken away,” he said. “I really hope this never happens again.”