The Douglas Eagles win their first state baseball championship
Photos by Seeking Smiles Photography
In May, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s baseball team (26-2) won the Class 9A state title with a 3-0 victory over defending champ Columbus High. After years of collecting district titles, the team’s state championship is the first in the school’s 26-year history.
The triumph at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers came as no surprise to fans, as the Douglas Eagles had been ranked No. 1 for multiple weeks on Perfect Game USA’s list of top 50 high school teams. The team was also ranked high by Baseball America, USA Today and MaxPreps.
That weekend, Eagles fans took to social media to show their support. The team’s Facebook page flooded with comments and even received kudos from the school’s first head coach, Fred Michael, who coached the team from 1990 to 1997. The team was also saluted by Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a Parkland native and former Douglas baseball player, who tweeted, “Unbelievable moment for the @SDEagleBaseball team … bringing home the 1st state title in the school’s history … way to go boys! #EaglePride” to his more than 266,000 Twitter followers.
This year marks Todd Fitzgerald’s fifth year coaching at Douglas. In a postgame press conference, he credited the team’s strong bond, in addition to their defensive strategy, for a portion of its success. “The chemistry is so good on our team,” he said. “They do everything together.”
Fitzgerald admits that, after his previous 16-year stint coaching at another school, transitioning to Douglas was the best thing that’s ever happened to him. “Sometimes change is good,” he says. “I’ve had these guys since they were babies—when they came in as freshmen. Those guys that are seniors are going to leave our program better men than they are anything else when they graduate. That’s our goal as a coaching staff. Not only is it about the game of baseball, but it’s about life lessons.”
The team’s reaction to their victorious season was priceless. Team members latched on to the trophy for a quick photo op before breaking out into boisterous chanting and parading it in front of the crowd.
Now, after participating in the regional finals for the last three years, Douglas joins Cypress Bay, Nova, Fort Lauderdale and Flanagan in bringing a state championship trophy back to Broward County.
“The resiliency these guys show … I’d go to war with these guys any day of the week and they know it,” Fitzgerald says. “I coach them as hard as I can. Sometimes they don’t like it, but they know that I love them and so does our coaching staff. We’re family, and that’s what we preach all year long.”