From the T-ball fields to their junior year of high school, baseball had always been there.
But this spring, the coronavirus pandemic did what many players could have never foreseen or imagined, by causing the cancellation of the 2020 high school baseball season. Hit hardest was the Class of 2020, who were robbed of their moment in the spotlight and what for many of them was their final opportunity to play with their childhood friends and teammates.
Several local members of the Class of 2020 have found their way back on the diamond this summer by suiting up for the Shippensburg Stars. The Stars featured four such members in their 3-0 win over South Penn League opponents Brushtown Tuesday evening at Memorial Park in Shippensburg: recent Shippensburg Area Senior High School grads Chandler Durf and Scott Witter; and Big Spring High School grads Jarrett Goodyear and Tyler Koser.
For those Class of 2020 graduates, the time away from the field -- and the missed bus rides with friends -- gave them a whole new appreciation for playing the game they love.
“I played baseball my whole life and not playing this spring kind of felt a little weird,” Goodyear stated following Tuesday’s victory. “You never really thought that could happen, especially for your senior season.”
“We had a disappointing senior year for baseball, so we felt like we needed to go out and play in Twilight ball,” Koser added. “It definitely made me appreciate being on the baseball field. I am still getting over it. It still bothers me from day to day. It’s nice to be back on the field, but it also brings back some memories of me missing my senior year.”
“It makes you see a whole new perspective of what it feels like to not be able to play baseball,” said Durf. “Once you actually get back out on the field it just feels like everything is back where it should be.”
The Stars offer the players a chance to get back on the field and enjoy the game they love while testing their skills against older, tougher competition. With several of the players using the opportunity to “tune up” for college baseball.
“I didn’t want to end my senior year without playing any ball. That’s what I love to do,” Witter stated. “It has been really nice and it prepares us for college playing against better competition and older guys.”
“The team is here, it’s local and we get to play very competitive ball with people that are older. It’s a great opportunity,” Durf said. “It’s mainly about seeing better competition. In high school you pretty much see the same group of guys for all four years except for the freshman and sophomores that come up. Here it is a new group of guys that have more experience, since they are already in college or older, and it is a whole new competitive level.”
Koser was happy to get some baseball in before he enlists in the Air National Guard. After serving his country, he plans to play baseball at Penn State Mont Alto.
“Playing with more experienced guys is nice. You learn from them, especially when you have people like [Stars catcher] Todd Weldon, an ex-minor league player. He helps us out a lot on little aspects of the game here and there,” Koser said. “You get a lot more experience playing with the guys and it is a lot more laid back. It’s not your high school friends you’re playing with. It’s a new group of guys and you get to meet new people.”
All four players started and played significant roles Tuesday. Witter and Durf each singled and scored a run in the Stars’ victory.
Stars quiet Brushtown bats in win
Pitchers AJ Farlling and Corey Weldon combined to allow just two hits and Todd Weldon drove in all three runs as the Shippensburg Stars took care of business against the Brushtown Bulldogs Tuesday at home, 3-0.
Farlling started for the Stars (4-2) and shut down the Brushtown (0-7) bats over four strong innings, surrendering a walk, an infield hit and striking out four. The hardest hit ball allowed by Farlling came with two down and a man on in the top of the fourth, and resulted in a spectacular diving catch by right fielder Scott Witter for the final out of the frame.
Weldon came on to replace Farlling in the top fifth and was just as dominant, striking out five over three shutout innings.
Offensively, Todd Weldon provided Farlling with some early run support by launching a two-run shot that hugged the foul pole in left in the bottom half of the first. The long ball scored Scott Witter, who poked a sharp single to right earlier in the frame.
Todd Weldon drove in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly that scored teammate Chandler Durf in the fifth.
Durf finished the game 2-for-2. Weldon, Witter, Jonathan Melendez and Michael Williams accounted for the rest of the Stars’ six hits in the victory.
The Stars continue their current homestand when they host Gettysburg (1-6) Thursday at 7 p.m. That is followed by another home date at Shippensburg Memorial Park against Hanover (3-6) Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.