Playing baseball there felt like a fantasy.
Carter Cowburn was only 14 years old but was part of the elite traveling team playing baseball in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a one-of-a-kind experience, and one that novice Hawsville thought might be limiting because getting a spot on the University of Michigan baseball team is such a difficult task.
Turns out that trip was just the beginning.
The dream has come true and Cowburn will wear the corn and blue jersey in 2024. He still has two more high school seasons to play in, but Cowburn already knows he will live the dream in college after verbally agreeing to play for Michigan last summer. It is a huge honor for the 6-foot-6 bowler/player who has turned years of dedicated work into achieving something special.
“It’s a very big dream for me,” Cowburn said after winning five in three, going 1 vs. 2 with the RBI in Friday’s game as the rain stopped against Loyalsock. “It makes me really happy thinking, ‘Wow, I’m really going. “
Cowburn and Michigan seeds were planted together during that trip three years ago. Cowburn loved everything about Michigan and caught the school’s attention with a play. He and his team got back there last summer and the wheels were already starting to roll at that point.
Cowburn had an excellent sophomore season last spring, doubling as his first high school run since COVID wiped out his freshman year. Between that and his play all summer, Cowburn landed hard on many collective radars and Michigan did their best to land him. One visit was all Cowburn needed to know Michigan was the right place.
“We played in Ann Arbor a few times and loved the experience. This year I went over the summer to Ann Arbor to play in another tournament and they invited me back to visit. We walked around and explored the campus and it was awesome,” Cowburn said. “The coaching staff is great. I met some guys. They were really healthy and fit people. They just sold me.”
Coburn can jump and/or hit for Michigan. He definitely did a good job in Hughesville. The Spartans 4-0 and Cowburn is a big reason for that, hitting .583 with two doubles and seven RBI. Cowburn topped 0.400 during his rookie high school season, also swiping four home runs, driving in 19 innings and collecting 0.562 on a percentage basis. Strong and disciplined, Cowburn has a keen eye and he charted 19 walks a year ago and has only been out four times in two seasons.
So far, Cowburn has upped its solid showing in the past year, bailing out and collecting 2.47 ERA. He has 11 strokes in 5 2/3 innings, giving him 62 in his first 37 2/3 innings. Cowburn throws in the mid-’80s and also has excellent movement in his court, discovering his not-so-quick pace against Loyalsock.
He has the talent, but Cowburn has the drive, too. He keeps getting better because he’s never satisfied. Even while being one of the area’s top forwards during basketball last winter, Cowburn always found time to hone his baseball skills. He’s paid the price, and Michigan is offering him a scholarship that really shows how Cowburn makes the money.
“It was a lot of hard work to get to where I am today,” Cowburn said. “It’s putting in work after basketball practice, spending an hour in my basement afterward, and continuing to lift weights and it’s starting to pay off.”
Cowburn also visited Radford and East Tennessee was also interested. Despite this, Michigan felt like home. The nice thing now is that Cowburn can just focus on enjoying his remaining high school experience.
Soon one of the dreams will come true with Cowburn on his way to play in Michigan. Now he can pursue other ambitions like helping Hughesville win the district championship, something she’s only done once in the program’s history and not since 2013. What could be a stressful decision has already been made.
Now the fun can really begin.
“When it happened during the summer, it was a heavy weight on my shoulder. It was like being able to take a deep breath,” Cowburn said. “Something really amazing has happened.”
Move again: In a situation that should surprise no one, inclement weather wreaked havoc on early spring schedules. It happens virtually every season because… well, that’s life in Pennsylvania.
Knowing this, it’s past the time when the PIAA pushes the start and end of the spring sports seasons back by a week or two. Especially in baseball and softball, it makes more sense in the world to delay the start, rather than trying to cram four, five and/or six games into a week later in the season, which inevitably happens every year. It surely will look like that again in 2022 with teams across Zone 4 in similar situations and many of them have only played two games so far.
Starting the season during the last week of March, a few days after spring technically comes, simply doesn’t work. More games are often put off rather than played. Push the start back at least a week, close somewhere June 21-23, and it’ll be all the better.
Additional rules: St. John Newman won his first two games, scoring 38 points in wins against Sugar Valley and Bucktail. Naseer Demik threw three strong rounds of rest to score his first victory over Sugar Valley before going 3-3 with a double and four sets against Bechtel. Nine hitters hit hard in that win with Jimmy Wheeler hitting a double-hit twice… Jersey Shore kicker Jeren Loomis looks strong on his 2022 debut, throwing 3 2/3 innings from a break in a 6-4 loss against Chiquilami . The sophomore got six goals and Tyler Boder got 2 for 3 steals… Lewisburg started 3-1 and Shea Gerton’s catch is a huge part of the team’s success. Gerton pulled off a safe run in all four games, netting a brace and sprinting at home against Shamukin and Selinggrove last week… Austin Cohn and Tyden Miller led his five-time career for Montgomery in a 22-0 season-opening win over Bechtel… before… For Sayer to lose his first defeat, Muncie moved to 4-0 when he racked up 15 strokes in a 17-1 win over Sullivan County. Novice Cameron Camerer had a home run three times, Noah Conver went 4 for 5 and Branson Air added three hits… Wellsboro’s Darren Callahan was also swinging with a big stick and netted twice in a 14-6 win over Troy. He added two more strikes against Athens and helped the Hornets start 3-1…The sophomore in Canton Holden Ward delivered a knockout in a 2-0 win over Kawanesque Valley before scoring 3-4 in the 4-2 loss against Athens… Cowanesque Valley got its back and defeated Port Allegany, 8-1 with Kade Sottolano going 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. Tucker St. Peter stole five bases and combined with painter McGuire in a five-hitter race… North Ben Mansfield’s freshman Alex Davis was a big impact and delivered three hits in the 10-0 win over Twanda. He’s also gone 2 for 3 with double and two robbers. Cam Fabian went 4 for 5 and kicked out his fourth runner in an attempt to steal.
The top five of Dr. Mas
1. Central Mountain (2-0): Multiple shooters continue to shine, while Central Mountain allowed three runs and eight hits in just two games. Freshman Brady Myers and Ashton Probst teamed up to win five-hitters in a 4-2 win over Mifflinburg after Crowe choked Stover and Chase Brach Montorsville in the opener. Myers, Stover and Brach are lower tier, so the present and future look solid for the three-time AAAAA Zone 6 defending champions. The Wildcats don’t light up the game offensively, but they do hit critical times. Junior hunter Nate Helms definitely did that against Mifflinburg, going 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
2. South Williamsport (2-0): Since trailing early District 4 defender Sayer AA in the opening game, South made 13 consecutive throws and Marianne Catholic scored 5-0 last Saturday. The shot was strong, the defense didn’t make a mistake and the kicks were balanced. The 8-2 win over Sayer looks particularly impressive, as the Redskins have beaten rivals ever since. However, this season it is only two games away, and the South is focusing on its next game, not the matches it has already played.
“We cannot give up. Two victories simply are not enough,” Makai Dai said after hitting 6 in 2 and 3 innings against Marianne. “We have to keep working.”
3. Loyalsock (2-0): Although a young team playing without injury Nick Barron, tied to Virginia Tech, Loyalsock won two good programs and led Hughesville 3-1 to the top of the fifth round on Friday before it rained. The game that will be hung there. Team Lancer made a statement in the opening game, rallying four down in the sixth inning to defeat the District 4 Class AAAA Champion Midwest Defender. They followed this up with the 15-3 Bloomsberg bombing. Ethan Nagy took the win over Midwest and threw four strong runs against Hughesville, while Caden Rodarmell, Colin Berger and Alec Kolb scored one goal two days later. Logan Bastian scored three hits in his last four to help spark the attack, while Moxen Cotter and Cooper Larson each got two in Bloomsburg’s win.
4. Hughesville (4-0): On her best start since 2016, Hughesville highlighted his week with a 5-2 victory over the 2021 District 4 Class AA runner-up Southern Columbia. Jed Webb and Coburn combined to hit 10 while Cowburn was 3 for 4 with two RBIs as the Spartans avenged two losses from last year. The bottom of the standings came big in this victory, as he rounded up top players to raise the pitch for Southern Champion Gaven Hovenstine and chase after him in the fifth inning. Eli Olshefskie, Gage Thomas and Aiden Barlett had 19 putts in their rackets on the fifth to knock out Hovenstine. This trio also went 2-4 walks twice and Barlett’s fifth single gave Hughesville a 5-1 lead.
5. Montoursville (1-1): Listen, it sounds like a broken record but baseball and pitching are king. Montorsville is just like the other teams on this list and they have had an excellent start to the season. After AJ Llorente put in well against Central Mountain, Nick Rider, Elias Eck and Grayson Rinker scored twice in a 6-2 win over Danville. All three have good things and they can mix it up. The Connecticut-bound Maddix Dalena hasn’t cast yet, but the Warriors display good depth and in a year when teams are likely to be forced to play four and five weeks of games, this is especially critical.
“We knew by the time the season came, our staff would be some of the best out there. We still have guys we didn’t shoot and they are really good,” Llorente said after his confrontation with Danville. “I’m not worried about that at all when I’m there at first (the base). I know who’s throwing is going to do their job.”
Players of the week
Ryan Thompson, St. John Newman, Noah Gearhart, Montgomery: Thompson is building his big rookie season, and he’s been a hit in all three games. He ignited the offense last week, going 5 for 6 with a home run, four RBIs and seven runs. Hitting the first major player reaches 0.750 during the first three games.
Game of the week
Loyalsock in Lewisburg: Friday Game is an interesting game between teams that collect 5-1 who both hope to make playoffs on Fields 3 and 4A. Lewisburg has scored 31 times in its first three wins, so this will be a good test for Loyalsock’s young staff. It also provides Lewisburg the opportunity to assert itself among the area’s domain. Gearhart hit and pitched well in Montgomery’s first two games, netting eight out of five innings while also highlighting a strong attack that led to 27 hits. Gearhart went 6-for-7 with two doubles, four RBIs and five runs. He also only allowed one round and took the win against Bucktail.
-Mass can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse