By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - Eddie Cornblum said what happened Wednesday in the Belton High School gymnasium does not happen often.
Not even for
Belton baseball, a team that's advanced to the playoffs 19 of the last 21 years.
A trio of Belton players, Shane Hoelscher, Dillon Newman and John Beck all signed Division I college letters of intent Wednesday.
"I kind of get chills when I think about it," said Cornblum, who's entering his second season as the Tigers' head baseball coach.
Hoelscher, who signed with Rice, Newman (Baylor) and Beck (University of Texas-Arlington) have different personalities that compliment Belton's traditioned baseball program, but they have each other in common and they shared that sitting at the table in front of friends, family, faculty and flashing cameras.
"I think it says a lot for our program for what we do," said Newman, who went 7-4 with a 1.93 ERA last year as Belton's No. 2 pitcher and hit .368 with three home runs. "I would consider us a big threat for having three (future college players), especially two D-I pitchers and a guy like Shane that's going to Rice. I mean, you hardly ever hear of anybody going to Rice to play baseball. You got someone like that in your line-up, yeah, I think we're a threat."
The Tigers finished with a sour loss to Tyler Lee in a regional quarterfinal and a 23-9 overall record that also included a shared District 12-5A championship with A&M Consolidated.
The three seniors, who have all been on varsity since they were freshmen, no longer have scouts to impress or college offers to sift through. All that's left is what they've known since they were boys – playing baseball.
"Me and Dillon have been playing together since we were seven years old ... and John, I've known John since we were about 11, so it's just real cool to share it with these guys," said Hoelscher, who will play second base or shortstop at Rice and led Belton with a .439 batting average with six home runs.
"It's real cool to think about all the memories and now we're here and we're up on a bigger stage.
Beck added: "We all play on the same summer team; teammates from freshmen year on, this has just been great."
Beck said he was also considering Texas State, Virginia Tech and Baylor but chose UTA because for academic reasons as well its proximity to Belton.
"I was considering (Virginia Tech) but this was the best, closest to home. I can still come home on weekends and they have a good baseball team," said Beck, who went 5-1 from the mound, including 4-0 in District 12-5A, with a 2.00 ERA last season.
Newman heard from Texas State, New Mexico, Virginia Tech and Sam Houston but when Baylor called, "that's what got me tickled," he said.
"It's just always been the choice," Newman added. "This is pretty much a dream come true ever since I was a little kid, this is where I planned to go."
Cornblum, who was former Tigers' head coach David Tidwell's assistant for six years before taking over last season, said watching the three develop since they were freshman has been a "rewarding" experience; one that has one season left.
"You don't get around kids on the same team for four years ... It's kind of like watching one of your own grow and you take a lot of pride in it," he said. "You watch how they mature physically. You watch their ups and downs in their personal lives and you just get to know them and their families. It's a neat deal. It's very rewarding personally. It's a special situation and you don't get that very often."
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562.