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Orchard’s Kirby Willats made his mark on the Creighton Senior Legion baseball program beyond the diamond. Willats has done everything asked of him, and them some, during his career and his unselfishness has been big reason for Creighton’s success.
"He's not the best baseball player on the team, but he has played a lot of baseball for us," said Creighton coach Russ Diedrichsen said. "It doesn't matter what we need him to do. He warms guys up in practice or shags balls from the outfield. He has played third, short, second, right and left for us this year. He is an older kid and he has played on the field where we needed him to and he's never questioned it. He'll do whatever it takes to help the team out."
Willats, a graduate of Orchard this past year, has been a member of the Creighton baseball program since Pony League. Willats followed in his brother’s footsteps who also played for Creighton.
"I started (playing for Creighton) in Ponys," Willats said. "My brothers went there to play baseball and they offered me to play there too. Since they were the closest town by a half mile we figured why not. It's fun getting to hang out, getting to know the Creighton guys and building friendships."
Despite not seeing the field every game, Willats kept his head up and has been a great role model for the younger players, and even the parents.
"If he's in the game, great, and if he's not, he is still there for the team," Diedrichsen said. "That says a lot. There are a lot of people and parents that can learn a lot from Kirby. When he isn't in the ball game, he isn't pouting. He's waiting his turn and is ready to go, no matter what position we play him. That tells the character of the young man."
Willats had to step up this season and be a leader on the Creighton squad, which is full of players from several different high schools.
"It's a lot of fun personalities and loose personalities with guys who just want to have fun, playing baseball," Willats said. "We have fun with it. I be supportive in there to help pick them up when they make a mistake. I let them know it's not the end of the game and there are still more plays to be made."
Willats’ baseball career comes to an end at the state tournament this week.
"We expected Creighton to make it to state," Willats said. "We're happy with being here, but we're not satisfied. We want to continue to do our best here. It's fun coming to state, seeing the competition and competing with them."
The Orchard Public valedictorian plans to attend Northwestern College in Iowa in the fall and he will be surely missed in the Creighton dugout.
"Kirby is a great person and a great kid," said Diedrichsen. "That's a young man that everyone should be proud of. He's the ultimate teammate. He is just a great person."