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Darrah’s big senior season helps fuel Zumwalt North playoff baseball run

Fort Zumwalt North senior first-baseman Garrett Darrah has been a major force at the plate for the Panthers in the 2018 playoffs. [Jonathan Duncan/Mid-Rivers Newsmagazine photo.]

Garrett Darrah is in the midst of closing out his baseball career at Fort Zumwalt North just the way he wanted it: pounding the baseball, leading by example and helping his team go deep into the postseason.

Darrah, the Panthers’ left-handed, sweet-swinging, senior first-baseman is having a final season to remember on the diamond.

“He’s a senior and he’s got a super character and he does the right thing, has good sportsmanship and leads by example,” Fort Zumwalt North coach Steve Siebert said. “This year, with him being on [offensively] like he has, it motivates our offense to know that we’re capable of coming back in big [game] situations.”

He added another pair of big-time performances to his stellar season last week as he helped the Panthers to the Class 5, District 7 championship with wins over Fort Zumwalt South [14-9] on May 15, and on May 16 Francis Howell North [15-6] at Fort Zumwalt East.

Against Zumwalt South, Darrah, went 4 for 4 with 3 RBI, a double, a home run and three runs scored.

“It’s just good to have a good day at the plate,” Darrah said.

In the district championship game against Howell North, Darrah, who is hitting a blazing .398 at the plate, was a pain for the Knights’ pitchers.

The senior first-sacker turned in a 3-for-3 day with a double, walks, a home run and drove in 5 runs to help drive the Panthers to their third straight district championship.

“I just know, now that I’m a senior, that every time I walk up to the plate that it could be possibly the last at-bat of my high school career, so I have to treat it like it,” Darrah said.

Darrah’s big week was a major boost of offense for the Panthers as has been the hammer in the Zumwalt North hitting lineup with 4 homers and a team-high 38 RBI.

“You expect good things from guys like Garrett, but that’s just amazing and it just gives other batters confidence when you have one guy dialed in,” Siebert said.

Confidence was the biggest thing that had to be rebuilt for Darrah last year after an arm injury caused by a pinched nerve essentially robbed him of his junior season last year.

“I had to undergo surgery to get a rib taken out to get a blood clot out of my arm due to muscle pushing up into my vein and it was rough,” Darrah said. “I was in the hospital for about two weeks and my weight went from 205 down to like 170.”

Once Darrah got out of the hospital, he was intently focused on doing what needed to be done to be back on the baseball field better than ever.

“I knew as soon I got out I was able to start physical therapy and knew where I needed to be [progress-wise],” Darrah said.

Darrah, who is headed to Northwest Missouri State to play baseball next year also credited his teammates with keeping him involved last year with fielding sessions during practice and working with his summer team, the Prospects, who helped him rehab and get back into baseball shape.

He has come back with a vengeance this spring hitting the long ball, driving in runs, and getting on base, game after game for the Panthers.

“He seems to be fine and relatively healthy and back on track,” Siebert said.

Although the season began on shaky ground with a 2-8 start, Darrah and his teammates expected good things. Darah said he is not really surprised by his success or the team’s recent postseason run that has them playing in the sectional round on Tuesday against Troy.

“I knew we were going to be successful with the amount of talent we have and that we’re going to have a good year this year,” Darrah said. “I know we didn’t start off that way but we’d rather peak late than peak early.”

Darrah has just one goal left for the season, and that’s helping the Panthers take care of one big item this spring. “Unfinished Business” has been the motto of the team after reaching the sectional round the past three seasons and not advancing to the Class 5 quarterfinals or state tournament.

The Panthers are solidly honed in on breaking down that barrier.

“We know our class this year that we definitely have the potential to go farther than just win sectionals,” Darrah said. “Our bats are on fire, we have the pitching staff, and I think we have the team to make it very far this year.”

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