Tyler Edwards receives congratulations from Coach Darren McWhorter after the region title win.

Photo by Tim Branstetter

Sometimes things are not easy to love. Sometimes it takes a lot of passion, dedication, hard work, pain and suffering to enjoy the things you love.

Tyler Edwards loves baseball.

Edwards found out just before the season started he would have to have surgery to repair a torn labium in his shoulder. The decision to sit out his junior year and have surgery on his shoulder or play through the pain was not a tough choice to make.

“The doctor told me it was my choice to play or not,” Edwards said, “He said my shoulder couldn’t get any worse and it was up to me if I wanted to play. I love baseball and I wanted to help the team out.”

For Edwards, baseball is a family tradition. His father Kyle and his grandfather Lonnie also played baseball in Laurel County. Both his father and grandfather are at ever game cheering him on. While enjoying the smiles and cheers when he succeeds, Edwards also appreciates the encouragement and support from his biggest supporters.

“I’ve had a baseball in my hand since I was born,” Edwards said. “Baseball has always been a part of my family. I have been around baseball my whole life. It’s the only thing I know. It’s good to have my family at the games. If something bad happens during the game they can put their arms around me and tell me a story that happened to them in a game. They can relate to what happens. When I see the name Edwards in the newspaper it makes me proud because my family has always been in baseball.”

Edwards has not missed a game or practice this season, but his dad says it has not come without a price. Edwards also spoke about how proud it makes him to see his son sacrifice through pain to reach his goals.

“I am extremely proud and my wife is too,” Kyle Edwards said, “It breaks my heart to see him hurting like that, but Tyler loves the game and he loves his teammates so much that it makes it worth while. He has persevered and that is a great life lesson. He has realized through a little pain there can be a lot of success.”

North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter also appreciates the dedication and determination that Edwards has shown during his junior season. McWhorter feels the sacrifice Edwards has made for the team has been a big part of their success.

“I’ve been worried about him all year long,” McWhorter said, “When it’s crunch time and he has to make that throw, will he be able to do it? He has stepped up and thrown people out at the plate. His arm will kill him the next day after he has to really turn one loose, but there is zero doubt in my mind when the game is on the line he is going to throw it absolutely as hard as he can throw it. You can’t say enough about a kid that will sacrifice pain for your team.”

After making it the region championship game, the Jaguars needed someone to step up and make a big play to finish off Middlesboro. Although Edwards felt like he missed his opportunity at making the big play earlier in the game, he got what he wanted.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Jaguars clinging to an 8-6 advantage, Edwards sacrificed his body and made a diving catch to end the game.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Tyler, to lay out and lay it all on the line to make the catch,” McWhorter said, “I was tickled to death for Tyler. I expected nothing less than for him to sacrifice his body for the team.”

Edwards couldn’t believe it when he got the opportunity to make the game winning catch. The pain and sacrifice that has lasted all season finally paid off.

“That one play, that one moment was worth everything,” Edwards said, “I wouldn’t have had that surgery for anything if I knew I was going to have a chance like that. It’s the best feeling in the world. Words can’t describe how good it felt. I would have done anything in the world for that chance and to have the ball hit to me. When I looked at my glove and the ball was in it, it was the best feeling in the world knowing we won the region championship.”

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