MINFORD — Pitching behind the likes of Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, and even overcoming injury and a lost sophomore season, Levi Coriell has simply been awaiting his turn.
Now, for his senior season, look for Coriell to first soar like a Falcon —followed by next spring stinging like a Yellow Jacket.
That’s because Coriell, the Minford High School six-foot and five-inch senior, has officially announced his intention to play college baseball —at NCAA Division II Cedarville University located in Cedarville.
Coriell was flanked at his recent signing ceremony at Minford High School by his parents, Gabe and Mandi Coriell; his sisters Mackenzie and Madison Coriell; Minford High School’s baseball coaching staff including head coach Anthony Knittel; Minford High School Athletic Director Kristin Ruby; and several family members, friends and Falcons teammates.
Cedarville is a member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with several other Ohio-based Division II institutions, as Coriell said he was recruited to the Yellow Jackets to primarily pitch — and play for head coach Mike Manes, the winningest coach in the program’s history who has been at the helm since 2008.
More importantly, he added, he chose Cedarville “because it followed my faith, I liked the academics and it had a good vibe to the campus.”
“I felt pretty at home there and I think it’s a good fit for me,” said Coriell.
As for his time as a Falcon, finally his senior season means hope springs eternal — for Minford is a back-to-back Division III regional runner-up (2019 and 2021), sandwiched around the canceled 2020 campaign caused by the coronavirus threat.
Coriell was a freshman on that unit three years ago, and came back in the second half of last season following missed time because of a torn hamstring —suffered in the preseason.
When the left-handed ace and now Marshall University freshman Vogelsong-Lewis didn’t pitch, the right-hander Coriell was one of the Falcons which did.
“I missed most of my conference games, but I came back later on and I was able to throw and pitch and just make an impact in our tournament run. I was able to pitch against Adena in our district semifinal game, and that was fun,” he said. “That was good.”
So too was being part of two regional runner-up clubs, despite his limited role in both.
“It comes down to team chemistry, and it’s a big deal that we have good team chemistry. You know what the guy next to you is going to do with the baseball. You trust that they are going to do the right thing with the ball and make the play,” said Coriell. “It’s nice to have the guy right beside you on the same page.”
This season, Coriell expects to step into one of the top two starting roles for the Falcons — which are the three-time defending Southern Ohio Conference Division II champions.
Minford shared the 2019 title with Wheelersburg, and is a favorite for the division crown again this season — with Wheelersburg, Waverly and Valley viewed as the likely top tier.
The Falcons for 2022 return seven starters —sans the graduated Vogelsong-Lewis, and standout catcher Matthew Risner.
Coriell said he has a variety of pitches he can utilize —combined with his height.
“I’m throwing a curve-ball, a slider, a two-seam and a four-seam, and a changeup right now. The height is a leverage thing. Since I’m tall, it’s like a whip action. It allows me to get down on the mound farther and to stay longer through the ball,” he said.
Knittel concurred about Coriell’s role —and health.
When he isn’t pitching, look for Coriell to contribute in right field —plus at the plate.
“Levi is a great kid from a great family. They’ve been a blessing to this program. Levi is a special kid who is going to be successful in college, because his character is awesome and his priorities are where they need to be. He is a hard worker, and this is the hardest I’ve ever seen him work in the offseason. Made some big gains. The best part about Levi is when you tell him something, he is going to work on it. And he won’t stop until he masters it. His height definitely helps with the trajectory of the ball coming at a downward angle. Makes it harder for hitters to hit the ball. He’s also a leader on the team, by both example and verbally,” said the coach. “He’s going to be a great pitcher and leader for us this year. He will be one of our top two starters, and we have confidence that he will be just fine. He will pitch in many big games for us like he did late last year, and he is hungry to get back to where we as a team want to get back to.”
Indeed, Coriell’s comeback to full strength is complete as the season starts Saturday — with Minford opening up against Zane Trace as part of the annual and season-opening First National Bank Classic at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
First pitch is set for 2:45 p.m.
Coriell could get the ball to begin the year, but first look for him to soar as a Falcon —before stinging with the Yellow Jackets next spring.
“This feels good. A little weight off my shoulders here, just nice to have this in the back of my mind that I’ve already done this,” he said, of his signing before the year. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to continue playing baseball and to continue my academics through Cedarville. I feel blessed to have the chance to do this. Not everyone has the opportunity to keep going in something like this, so I am very thankful I can.”
Coriell said he plans to major in either Environmental Science or Environmental Engineering.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved