Spending the better part of his junior season on the bench, one thing kept Cody Young from getting down.
"It was rough, but regardless of what happened, I knew I still had my senior year," Young said. "We had a senior graduating, and we really needed someone to step up and take over the position. I was finally going to get the opportunity and I wasn't going to let it fly by. I was going to seize it, no matter what."
That he has. Young not only won South Central's catching position, but developed into an asset behind the plate and in the batter's box for the semistate-bound Satellites.
"Obviously, we were going to give him first opportunity, but basically, the position was wide open," S.C. coach Ron King said. "I know Cody didn't like the fact he wasn't getting the playing time he wanted, but he never complained about anything. He kept working hard on it and it's paying off when it counts the most. He's such a great asset to the team."
A wall on balls in the dirt, Young's shortcoming was his arm. The life-long catcher spent the off-season in the weight room strengthening his right shoulder for throwing and his legs to become more powerful coming out of his crouch.
"I knew I had a lot of things to work on, tools that I was missing to be a starting catcher," Young said. "If a team's going to go deep in the state tournament, they can't have a weak defensive catcher. It was a lot of repetition, getting from point A to point B faster. It was making sure I was throwing from my ear so I wasn't taking so long on my release, only taking one step and exploding off my back foot."
It didn't hurt that King was a catcher in his playing days. His expertise coupled with Young's effort cut 0.3 of seconds off his pop time.
"His heart is amazing," King said. "He does everything he can to block the ball. You don't see that out of a lot of catchers. He loves the game of baseball. He puts everything into it. He was going to work until he got it right."
The team's mental attitude award winner, Young had his crowning moment in Monday's Caston Regional final when he cut down a Fort Wayne Blackhawk runner at second to end the fifth inning in a 6-5 game.
"That was awesome, definitely one of the greatest moments of my season," he said.
At the plate, Young is hitting .333 with 18 RBIs out of S.C.'s cleanup spot.
"I worked a lot on pulling the ball," he said. "I had to fix two things -- dropping my back shoulder and letting the ball get too deep in the zone. Previously, I could only hit to right and center. Now I can hit to left, too. I started off lower in the order, so I was seeing a lot of fastballs. When I moved up, Dan (Snyder) and Garrett (Walter) were always on base, so it was easy to find a way to get them in."
Now Young is one win away from playing in a state championship, a far cry from a year ago.
"I couldn't have asked for any more out of the guys and coach," he said. "It's been great, everything I hoped for."