In May, the fate of the Birdsboro Sr. Babe Ruth team was up in the air. When the Orioles were able to pull through with enough players to field a team, there were very few that played on the 2007 team. Corey Schlegel is one of those few.The role that Schlegel saw himself filling this year for the Orioles was that of a leader, because due to a variety of things this season, there were many new faces on the Orioles squad.
"Kory is a fine young man that has played for me the past several seasons," said Birdsboro Babe Ruth manager Roger Zymma. "He's quiet and unassuming on and off the field. He leads the team with a strong work ethic and by keeping his composure during good and bad outings on the mound.
"He is also a well rounded player, including contributing solid infield play at second base and shortstop. He hit and sacrificed well and literally was willing to do whatever we asked of him during his playing time for me. He was a pleasure to have around and coach, and we will miss him next year."
The pitcher/infielder for the Orioles began his baseball career around five years old.
"My dad put me in baseball games and showed me a lot of baseball stuff on television," said Schlegel. "I loved the game myself from the start. It interests me because the game itself is fast paced at times, slows down, and is very much a back and forth sport."
Of course baseball isn't his only sport, Schlegel also bowled during the winter seasons at Daniel Boone High School.
Interestingly enough, even though at a glance, bowling and baseball have nothing to do with each other, Schlegel brought to light some of the similarities between the two.
"While I was bowling, I was the anchor on the team, the last one to bowl," Schlegel said. "I was usually put in pressure situations and as a relief pitcher in high school, I was exposed to the same thing. So you could say that I was the go-to guy when things got rough."
Along with pitching, Schlegel also played shortstop and second base for both Boone and Birdsboro Babe Ruth.
Help has come in many forms to Schlegel along the way, and he mostly credits his father for having a major hand in the decision to play baseball.
"When I was in Little League, he got me a how-to instructional tape for pitching, and it helped with my mechanics," said Schlegel. "Once my mechanics improved, I could then focus on the speed of my pitches."
He also used a hit-away mechanism to help him with his batting. It's something that Schlegel still uses today.
Schlegel gives credit to both of his baseball coaches as well, Babe Ruth Coach Roger Zyma and Daniel Boone Head Coach Chris Hunt.
"Coach Zyma helped me immensely with my pitching and gave me advice as far as what to throw in high pressure situations.
"Coach Hunt would discuss with me what to throw in different situations and the stats on throwing first pitch balls and first pitch strikes."
He admitted that when he began pitching, the situation wasn't too good, but when their help came, he began to get increasingly better.
"With each of my coaches' help, my mechanics got better as time went on," Schlegel said, "I learned how to stay on top of the ball more, and I learned to make my curveball break. Previously when I had thrown it, it would be flat, and in essence, I made it curve."
Teammates were also a big influence on Schlegel in his development, and one of them, Brad Kopicz, who is now an assistant coach with the Babe Ruth Orioles, has been very instrumental.
"Brad worked with me on my change-up," Schlegel said, "I couldn't throw one to save my life. He had me throw a bunch of them in a row and helped me a lot with my pitching. I'm very thankful for that."
Schlegel's team finished a respectful 9-7 this year, even though the team lost players due to senior week, vacations or the like.
"I think we did pretty well as a unit this year, even though we didn't really know each other at the beginning," said Schlegel. "At the end of the year the chemistry was well established."
Schlegel was one of the few returnees from last season's squad. This year, according to him, was just a bit different.
"Last year we had a much better turnout I think, but then again, we had returning players.
"This year we had a good, solid group of guys that could play almost anywhere in the field, so it was really nice to have that."
To make the newer players on the team feel welcome, Schlegel just talked with them in between innings during the game, and joked around with them. He believes that it was the lighthearted moments between the team that helped build a strong bond.
If the Babe Ruth season hadn't gotten off the ground this year, Schlegel said he probably wouldn't have had something to fall back on for the summer. To fill the void, he said he would have worked a little more or bowled.
"If there had been no baseball this summer, I would have missed it a lot. I would've been itching to play, and since our season has ended, I already have the itch again."
But alas, there was baseball for the Orioles this summer, and Schlegel said that even though it didn't look too good at the beginning, his coach was very pleased at the results of the year, even mentioning that Zyma got 20 calls in one day, which would have been enough to fill a roster out right then and there.
Motivation for playing wasn't an issue either for the Orioles this year, and the goal was to have fun while they were at it. To an extent, Schlegel believes almost not having a season was motivation enough.
For next year, Schlegel says that the key to the Orioles' success will be to have returning players. "Having a good turnout and a variety of players at different positions would work out well. Also having a team next year like the one we had this year would be great."