TOWN OF UNION (WBNG) -- After the 2020 season was canceled, Section IV baseball is back.
One of the last games played in the Southern Tier was in June of 2019, when Maine-Endwell fell in the Class A state title.
With no chance to make a run in the state tournament this season, coach Matt Raleigh said his goals are to keep his players healthy and continue to help them develop.
"I've got five kids on this team that have been offered scholarships to play baseball or have opportunities to play at the next level," said Raleigh. "My job as their varsity coach is to put them in a better position or give them more opportunities than they have."
Raleigh said it's tough to tell how his team shapes up, especially after a lot of kids didn't play baseball last year.
"What I've seen out here in the last couple of weeks, I like what I see," he said. "I know other schools will be in the same boat but I think it comes down to what kids were working hard during the offseason and trying to get their game better. I've got a lot of kids out here that love baseball and I'm very fortunate to coach these guys."
This year's roster features a number of players from the 2016 Maine-Endwell Little League World Series team.
"Sometimes having a target on your back is a good thing to go through life that way, it keeps you working hard and moving," said Raleigh. "There's no favorite because no one knows what last year was. I know I like my team. These guys have done a great job from what they went through and what they were expected, they lived up to those expectations in my mind."
While most are juniors this season, Conner Rush was one of the older players on the championship team and is a senior this season.
"You're kind of used to getting other teams' best shot but we enjoy it, we love playing good baseball," he said.
Rush said going through that experience together made their bond on the field stronger.
"It's awesome," he said. "I've been playing with these guys since I was five years old so it's great to get that last season with them and hopefully have a successful one."
Maine-Endwell's first game is next Monday as they host Horseheads.