ZANESVILLE - Appearing in its first regional tournament since 2011, the Steubenville baseball team saw its 2014 season come to and end on Thursday.
Big Red was back in the regional this year - the final year for Paul DeFrances, Justin Corsi, Kai McClurg and Bryan Pierro.
"Those four seniors came everyday to practice and games with an attitude to set an example to our juniors and sophomores that hard work wins," said Steubenville coach Fred Heatherington. "They accepted nothing less."
FINAL GAME — Big Red senior pitcher Justin Corsi delivers a pitch in Thursday’s regional semifinal against Dover. — Matthew Peaslee
DeFrances, Corsi, McClurg and Pierro were freshman in 2011. They caught a glimpse of the success that saw Big Red win an OVAC, sectional and district title. They replicated those accomplishments this year.
"The kids battled all season," Heatherington said as the team finished 23-5.
The 26-year head coaching veteran had emotional, yet prideful things to say about his seniors.
"Paul is the ultimate teammate. He was in the program for four years and played very little, but was always there with a positive attitude. He helped the team anyway possible."
DeFrances was a Valedictorian in the class. He plans to attend Ohio State University majoring in pre-med and accounting.
"Justin was a three-year pitcher who dedicated himself to baseball. His hard work also let him get better at the plate and first base. Justin's future is bright."
He will attend Bethany College and play baseball.
"Bethany is getting a true baseball player," Heatherington added.
"Kai is the hardest-nosed player we have coached. The ball is afraid of Kai. He was a great leader over the past two years and is definitely in the category of baseball intelligence of Bill Ellis, the baseball savvy of Jason Vein and the overall toughness of Mike Mort. They all were great catchers for us."
"Bryan has the love of baseball that all players need. He's the most-coachable player in my 26 years of coaching Big Red baseball. Bryan is an outstanding leader both on the field and in the classroom. We hope some of Bryan's character has rubbed off on all of us."
Pierro is a class Valedictorian. He plans to attend either Kent State University or Otterbein University majoring in accounting or nursing and play football.