LEDE

York Cornerstone Seniors’ Dana Hobbs slides into second base last Friday night against Fairbury in district tournament action at Levitt Stadium in York.

YORK – Another season is in the books for the York Cornerstone Legion baseball program, which saw some ups and downs this summer.

The Juniors finished the year with a record of 15-11 and made the district tournament championship game for the second consecutive season.

The Seniors ended their season 12-19. The program will part with a strong group of kids who have been playing baseball for a long time in York, including AJ Beins, Mason Wright, Bradyn Heiss, Keegan Lyons and Cameron Bethune.

That core group of older players was essential to the team, according to Cornerstone baseball head coach Justin Rodrigues. They helped lay the foundation of what the coaching staff wants the program to be about in the future.

“This year was so important to get the Senior guys to buy into a new culture and new way of running the program,” Rodrigues said. “And when it’s your last year, it’s easy to get selfish and just look out for your own personal interest, but these kids did the exact opposite. They bought into the program and what my coaching staff and I were trying to get done.

“I can’t thank them enough for their time and leadership, which had an impact on the younger kids in the program. It was an honor to coach them all.”

SECOND

The York Cornerstone Seniors meet at the mound during their district tournament game against Fairbury last Friday at Levitt Stadium in York.

One of the biggest signs of development from the previous summer was the defense, Rodrigues said. And that’s a big deal, because the Cornerstone baseball program leans heavily on two things: great pitching and great defense.

“I thought that was a big improvement from last year, and it’s a staple in our program,” he said of the overall defense. “We want to try to do everything we can to improve that each year.”

While the defense showed signs of improvement, the biggest area where Rodrigues and his coaching staff thought the program needed to be better at was being prepared – especially late in the season at district time.

That’s on the players, but it’s equally on the coaches, too, he said.

“I feel like we have so much talent throughout the program, and we need to have the ability to prove that when it comes to crunch time against the best competition,” Rodrigues said.

Even with some longtime Cornerstone Legion players departing, the cupboard isn’t bare for next summer, however. A good group of Seniors will be back, including guys like Wyatt Cast, Andrew Clark, Dana Hobbs, Keelan Osentowski and Tyler Wright.

Mix in the talented Juniors that will graduate to Senior ball, which includes Bradyn Glebe, Reid Heidtbrink and Creighton Hirschfeld among others, and the Cornerstone baseball program returns solid parts all over the diamond and on the pitching mound. Juniors’ Noah Jones and Jonah Barrow, who enjoyed breakout seasons in their first summer with the program, will be around as well.

THIRD

The York Cornerstone Seniors line up before their game with Valparaiso last Saturday in a district tournament game at Levitt Stadium in York.

“We are going to have a lot of guys come back for both teams,” Rodrigues added, “but on the Senior level we will lean on the likes of Andrew Clark, Dana Hobbs, Wyatt Cast, Keelan Osentowski and Tyler Wright – all those guys will be leaders for our program. And I know that they haven’t been too happy with the results of the last couple of years, so I know they’re going to be hungry to improve and lead our program to a successful season.”

After his second full year as a coach in the Cornerstone baseball program, and first as head coach of both the Juniors and Seniors, Rodrigues is thankful to be backed by the community.

“I really appreciate all of the support from the kids, parents and board members, along with Legion Post 19,” Rodrigues said. “York runs, in my opinion, the best game day operation and has the best facility in the state. And without the help of those people nothing would be possible, so I’m very blessed with all the help and support I get along the way and I hope they know their contributions don’t go unnoticed.”

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