Seton seniors reflect on lessons learned on and off the baseball field
BINGHAMTON — Seton Catholic Central’s baseball team put in a great effort on the way to the state finals over Father’s Day weekend. Unfortunately, a year after a state championship win, they came up short in a 2-0 loss to eventual state champion Hoosic Valley in the Class C semi-finals. The Saints took the 2014 Section IV, Class C championship in May.
A “Core Four” of seniors — as Coach Jim Miller put it — were a big influence on the entire team. Neil McCormack was at third, Robert Olsen at shortstop and Connor McCormack played centerfield. First baseman Michael Korchak is also a pitcher.
“They basically played for me for four years and have been a cornerstone both this year and last year,” Miller said. With the loss of five seniors off the championship club last year, Miller added the Core Four led by example and transferred a lot of information to younger players. “Not just how to play, but how to conduct yourselves to the younger people we have on the team,” Miller said.
Three of those players and the coach sat down with the Sun to talk about their team. When asked to describe Coach Miller, Neil McCormack said, “Four years with him taught us a lot.”
His brother, Connor McCormack, spoke of the team’s positive attitude: “We don’t give up if we’re losing. We stick to it until the last inning. We’ve been playing together, a lot of us, since Little League.”
“We’re a small school so we know each other,” said Olsen. “We know what we can do. When one person’s down, someone’s there to pick them up.”
“We had different people step up at different times. That’s what a team does,” echoed Miller.
Faith is important to the Saints as well. They pray the Our Father and Hail Mary before each game. They also offer prayers for two students killed in a car crash in May 2004 — Saints pitcher Andy Donahue, Jr., and basketball player Brad Conklin. They also remember head football coach Brad Singleton, who was killed in a 2011 crash. All three names are sewn on the back of the players’ hats, along with a cross. Players say prayer gives them confidence before they go on the field.
Coach Miller is more concerned about how the team plays than the record. “It’s not at the top of the list that I track,” he said. “We just go out there and play, do all the things we are supposed to. We use our skill sets and we add up the score at the end.”
The McCormack brothers and Olsen have used their baseball skills with kids during trips to Haiti. “They loved it…it’s a change for them. They’re natural athletes,” said Neil McCormack. “It’s good to see the kids and see a different perspective on life,” said Olsen. He said it helps them gain an “appreciation for what we have.” The trips were arranged through the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“Their other non-baseball team experiences with us have led them to a more sophisticated view of what life is like, and the ability to handle hurdles that we run into in our program,” Coach Miller said.
The three Core Four players who spoke with the Sun all plan to go to college. Neil McCormack will play baseball with the Le Moyne College Dolphins. Olsen may take a walk-on baseball tryout after his first year at the Citadel in South Carolina. Connor McCormack plans to focus on his studies at the University of Buffalo.
They’re leaving Seton Catholic Central with a record of achievement on the baseball field, and with top marks in the classroom.
“They have a well-rounded view of life as they are about to enter into adulthood,” said Coach Miller.
Deacon Tom Picciano is a longtime contributing writer to the Sun. A professional journalist by trade, he currently serves at St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament Church in Vestal.