MAPLEWOOD — Cashen Schranz got to run up and down a beach and let the spray of the ocean kiss his face
The Maplewood-Richmond Heights senior got to watch the sunset on the ocean, but he missed his home.
Mostly, Schranz missed his Blue Devils baseball family.
"I really wanted to get back here and practice with them as soon as I could," Schranz said.
Schranz spent time in Florida to help family members during the early part of Maplewood-Richmond Heights' virtual school year.
But after losing his junior season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and spending time away, Schranz returned in time for the baseball season and helped Maplewood-Richmond Heights win its first district title since 2015.
"It felt great," Schranz said. "We brought one back to the school and we needed to. It was beyond time for us to bring home a title."
The Blue Devils (11-11) captured their fifth district title last week with a 15-0 victory over Trinity in the Class 3 District 5 title game.
Thanks to that victory, Maplewood-Richmond Heights (11-11) will play Elsberry (15-9) in a Class 3 sectional at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Clayton High School.
Schranz dreamed of playing in such scenarios hundreds of miles away when the season still seemed uncertain because of coronavirus. While in Florida, he did virtual schooling while training for the season as well as taking part in some hobbies such as deep-sea fishing.
"It was pretty unique," Schranz said. "I did a lot of working out and did a lot of baseball work down there. I feel like I really set myself up for this season, but after a while, you start to miss home."
Schranz leads the Blue Devils in runs scored (33), home runs (three), triples (two), slugging percentage (.814) and batting average (.458).
He's also the leader of the pitching staff with a 5-2 record and a 2.03 ERA with 68 strikeouts over 31 innings pitched.
"He's certainly a nice trump card to have in certain games," Maplewood-Richmond Heights coach Jonathan Webb said. "This entire senior class has been a group that when they arrived as freshmen, we pinpointed this year."
Schranz, a John Wood Community College recruit, has been a three-year starter and he said he believes the Blue Devils are rolling at the right time, winning their last three games by a combined score of 37-1.
Schranz's 12 career wins on the mound are the most for a Maplewood-Richmond Heights pitcher since 2001. Dave Williams picked up 11 from 2005-08.
"We've had conversations about what this team can do and he's one of the best pitchers to come through here in the last 20 years," Webb said. "I think he really relishes that opportunity to say, 'Here's what I can accomplish while I'm here.' "