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Hughesville beats Loyalsock at Bodine Park in baseball game as part of a four-team league

HUGHESVILLE-They cannot regain their stolen spring high school baseball seasons. But players from Hughesville, Loyalsock, Warrior Run and Central Mountain can still make lasting memories.

And that really is what this four-team league’s mission statement is. Yes, they want to win and develop as baseball players and coaches, but after watching the COVID-19 pandemic steal so much, they really are more focused on regaining the pure joy that this game and their teammates provide.

Hughesville and Loyalsock enjoyed their experiences Thursday at Bodine Park and Hughesville improved to 2-0, winning 11-5. Eight different players produced hits, while Carter Cowburn, Dylan Farnsworth and Devin Maciejewski threw 5 1/3 hitless innings.

“I’d say it’s more closure than anything else. You get to play with the kids you grew up with one last time,” Hughesville graduate and Bucknell-bound Jacob Corson said after going 1 for 1 with two walks and a run. “In August everyone goes their separate directions, so for all of us to stay together for one more summer and play some pretty meaningful organized baseball, it feels pretty good. We’re all just happy to have one more chance to play together.”

“I said to the guys when we had our team meeting when the season was essentially canceled last March, the thing I would miss most was having the opportunity to spend the time with the guys,” Hughesville coach Chris Kish said. “You spend so much time in the offseason building this thing and the thing I’ll take the most from this senior class that were going to play at the high school level and this opportunity is the relationships that continue to grow and the memories we’ll have forever from being able to do it.”

Coaches from all four schools started laying the groundwork to build some more memories soon after the high school season was canceled. Momentum picked up in May, but many obstacles still remained, especially at a time when the new normal looks nothing like anything anyone has ever seen before.

Insurance needed purchased, Mill Hall and Hughesville boroughs needed to approve use of their fields and all the safety precautions the CDC recommends needed to be put in place.

It was a tireless effort and the fruits of that labor came last Monday when Hughesville and Warrior Run played the league’s first game at a packed Bodine Park. Nothing can make up for the high school season these players lost, but this is a nice consolation prize.

“We were pretty crushed when it came out that the season was going to be canceled, but it wasn’t too long after that that they said they’re might be a chance for something,” Corson said. “When we found out it happened we were pretty psyched.”

“We said we wanted the kids to have that opportunity as long as we could practice the appropriate guidelines that have been put out. We knew it was going to take a little bit and we were meeting every week for four weeks and talking and it finally came to fruition,” Kish said. “There were a lot of steps and a lot of legwork, but I was fortunate to work with good guys.”

While the recent high school graduates have another shot to play with their long-time teammates, the underclassmen now have a league in which they can develop after missing a crucial growing season last spring. That is especially crucial in a sport as skill and rhythm-based as baseball. It has become a win-win for all those involved and the league provides Hughesville and opportunity to show what might have been last spring.

Hughesville had been building toward the 2020 campaign the past four years and appeared loaded heading into the spring. The Spartans featured one of the district’s deepest pitching staffs, had outstanding senior leadership as well as several returning starters and a good crop of prospects.

Having a shot at scholastic glory taken away without playing a game was a devastating blow, but all Hughesville can do now is remind others why the hopes were so high.

It certainly did Thursday as Devin Swank combined with the other three Hughesville pitchers to combine on a three-hitter. Hughesville scored nine runs in its last four at-bats with Clayton Poust hitting a two-out, two-run single in the second inning. Cowburn sparked a four-run third-inning rally that put Hughesville up 6-2 with an RBI double and Brock Stroup capped it with a two-run single. Poust and Corson combined on a double steal of third and home an inning later with Poust then stealing home as well after Loyalsock failed to cover the plate.

Spencer Gross hit an RBI single for Loyalsock, Joeb Schurer had a hit and two runs, Nick Barone walked three times and Chase Cavanaugh went 1 for 2 with a run, walk and stolen base.

“Last year was kind of our coming out party and this year was really our year to try and come out compete with the better teams like Montoursville and Loyalsock,” Corson said. “I think whenever our guys can have a chance to compete against some good competition it’s always nice.”

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