By: Josh Briggs
HASKELL — Playing sports at the college level has become a bit of a trend in Haskell.
On Thursday, Harmony Grove added two more signees to that list with Brinson Cornwell and Cody Icenhower inking their way to Lyon College (Batesville) on baseball scholarships.
The two Cardinals are the fourth and fifth to sign National Letters of Intent in the past three years for Harmony Grove’s baseball program. The most recent were former catcher and pitching duo, Zach Caplinger (University of Arkansas-Monticello) and Tyler Hamilton (Central Arkansas Baptist).
“These guys are great guys and work hard and do everything they are supposed to do,” said Head Coach Brandon Mynhier. “They have paid the price and laid it down from the teams before them and they are ready to go to the next level.”
“They are guys that will compete and make the team that they are going to better.”
Cornwell did a 180 on what his original plans were. In the fall, Cornwell had made his mind up on Henderson State University, but a visit to Lyon College changed all of that.
“I wasn’t sure I would like it (Lyon) and hadn’t heard much about it,” Cornwell said. “I went down there (to Lyon) and immediately fell in love with the place. Everything about it. The community. The small-school atmosphere. Everything.”
Cornwell plays the third base for Harmony Grove and has his goals for his upcoming senior year are set nothing short of high. “We want to go all the way,” Cornwell said. “We have got a close-knit group of guys that are like a family out there. We love playing together. It is a great atmosphere. Where we lack in talent this year, I think we are a lot closer as a team.” Cornwell will be used as a utility guy and third baseman for Lyon.
Harmony Grove finished in the final four in 3A last year, falling to 5-3A Conference foe Mayflower in the semifinals of the state tournament.
For Icenhower, his job is a little different in 2016. After holding down starting duties at second base a season ago, the senior takes over for Caplinger, arguably one of the best catchers in Harmony Grove’s history. “(Caplinger) was one of the best and it will be hard to follow him up, but I caught him when he pitched and I got comfortable back there,” Icenhower said. “Those are hard shoes to fill, but we can do it. I am getting more comfortable behind the plate. “Icenhower said Lyon coaches will look for him to be an anchor at second base next year. As for his senior season with the Cardinals, Icenhower’s goals are pretty straightforward. “I want to improve and keep working everyday,” Icenhower said. “I have to do my job as one of the seniors and leaders. Hopefully, I get better and help take this team to state then get better in the offseason and continue to work in college.”
In their careers at Harmony Grove, both athletes have put up nice numbers.
Cornwell his hitting .430 and has logged 29.2 innings pitched with a 2.88 earned run average and 24 strikeouts. Mynhier said Cornwell will see “significant time on the mound” in 2016. Icenhower owns a .327 average for his career and has one All-Conference honor under his belt. Mynhier said that while Icenhower will be the main catcher this season, the senior will also get rest with plenty of time at second base.
Harmony Grove opens its regular season Monday with a road test at England. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.