Cory Richardson ended his sophomore year on the Delaware Hayes baseball team with promise.

Richardson, a senior and Cornerstone University commit, hit .250 in limited at-bats and recorded five strikeouts and a save in 10 innings on the mound in the 2018 season.

Injuries, however, limited his playing time as a junior.

"Throughout his high school career, we knew as a staff that Cory could be a special player from the time he came in as a freshman," coach Ryan Montgomery said. "He struggled with some injuries here and there in his sophomore and junior seasons and we would see flashes in games that just got us excited to see what could be once fully healthy."

Richardson, a pitcher and third baseman, was looking to build on his sophomore season a year ago, but was sidelined for a couple weeks with bicep tendonitis. Soon after returning to action, he took a ground ball to the face during a game, resulting in a concussion that sidelined him for a few more weeks.

"I just hoped for a speedy recovery and could hopefully get back on the field before the season was over," Richardson said. "I just wanted to get healthy as quickly as possible to contribute to the team."

Richardson, a right-hander who throws a fastball, changeup, curveball and slider, returned to action before the end of the season. Overall, he appeared in 15 games, batting .400 with 11 RBI and going 2-0 on the mound with a 0.37 ERA, 12 strikeouts and a save as the Pacers finished 11-14 overall and 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal Division and lost to Olentangy Orange 8-2 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

The stage was set for Richardson to assume a lead role with the Pacers this season before all spring sports were canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"We had really high hopes for Cory on the mound this year," Montgomery said. "His velocity had jumped all offseason, putting on a few mph on his fastball and really controlling his offspeed (pitches). He was our guy, our No. 1 on the mound that would set the tone for us and someone who was reliable and wanted the challenge of facing the best teams.

"He committed himself to the offseason program of weights and the arm-conditioning program, and was coming into this season primed and ready to continue where he left off his junior year."

Richardson now is focused on preparing for his career with Cornerstone, which is in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He wants to work on his pitching mechanics, increase his velocity and add another pitch to his arsenal, particularly one that drops.

With so many injuries during his high school career, Richardson isn't taking anything for granted going ahead. Cornerstone, which is an NAIA program, has a junior varsity and varsity, and Richardson said he's aiming to play for the latter as a freshman.

"Junior year when I got injured, the lesson I really learned there was you got to get back. You have to work as hard as you can," said Richardson, who plans to major in business administration. "I think I want to take that into college with me. You're not always guaranteed everything going to a new school and a new program. I just want to work hard enough to show my new coach I'm worthy of a spot on varsity."

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve