Staunton Senior Scores More Than Runs: The Stephen Plaugher Story
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Staunton senior Stephen Plaugher is the manager of the varsity baseball team.
In one of his final games with the Storm, Plaugher, who has an intellectual disability, scored his first run. This moment was added to the official record books.
“It was really fun,” said Plaugher. “It felt awesome.”
“We don’t know what hand we’re going to be dealt in life, but it’s our opportunity to figure out how we’re going to play it,” said Staunton head baseball coach George Laase.
Plaugher first stepped on the diamond two years ago, when his teammate, Reece Levin, introduced him to the sport of baseball.
“It might be baseball but at the end of the day, it’s life,” said Levin. “I’m out there helping Stephen and Stephen is helping me at the same time by being a light. I’m really proud of him.”
Plaugher has become a staple of the Staunton baseball program, running the scoreboard and motivating his teammates in the dugout. Plaugher is also known for his honest communication in both practice and competition.
“Stephen tells us the truth,” said Laase. “Sometimes the guys have their heads down during a game but Stephen will tell them to get a hit and bring them back to reality.”
After every game, the team pitches to Plaugher until he gets a hit and then they run the bases together.
“They take care of Stephen,” added Laase. “They pick him up from school and they take him to practice. He’s one of the boys.”
“They support me a whole lot,” said Plaugher.
It seems this support is mutual. When Plaugher batted lead-off for the Storm, the cheers could be heard throughout the ballpark.
“To see him be able to get in the box and score a run is everything,” said teammate Haiden Engleman. “He’s always picking us up and I’m blessed to know him.”
When Plaugher steps up to the plate, he says his only goal is “to make it home.” Although he graduates from Staunton this spring, it seems Plaugher has found a permanent home on the diamond, surrounded by his teammates.
“He keeps us all humble,” added Laase. “Everyday we have a chance to see one of the truest blessings of the game of baseball.”
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