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SENIOR WEEKS: Conestoga’s Merrill wonders what could’ve been after working to perfect his swing all winter

Conestoga baseball has a rich history, and senior outfielder Josh Merrill, who was one of the leading hitters for the Pioneers last spring, was looking forward to making his team a Central League contender in 2020.

“This spring I wanted to get back out on the field and improve all my numbers across the board,” said Merrill. “However, I found myself wanting our team to succeed much more. My main goal this season was to add another Central League championship to that list.

“Over the offseason, I worked a lot transferring my athleticism into my swing — I poured a lot of time in the cages, fixing any mistakes or miscues.”

“Josh could not have been more committed to our offseason workouts,” said Conestoga baseball head coach Matt Diamond. “He was a leader in every drill, every rep. Coming off a very strong junior season I truly believe he was primed to have a breakout 2020 senior year.”

Last spring Merrill batted .288 with 15 hits, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases. The speedy outfielder also displayed a powerful throwing arm. His favorite outfield spot is center field.

“As a center fielder, all your outfield skills have to be heightened,” said Merrill. “You’re looked on as a leader with your communication and placement as well as all the fundamental defensive skills.”

Merrill was looking forward to a banner 2020 season.

“It was a moment and opportunity I felt as if I had waited four years to get to and my moment was finally coming,” said Merrill. “My friends, coaches, and family around me shared a feeling that this year could have been a spark or uptrend we as a baseball program needed, and that thought really got me fired up to give everyone on that team my all.

“I was incredibly saddened by the [cancellation] of the season, and I would do anything to get the season back but the world is much bigger than myself or baseball and saving lives was a higher priority and I understand the governor’s decisions and actions.”

Merrill, who will attend Penn State University in the fall, is involved with many activities outside of the baseball diamond.

He is a board member of Conestoga’s Investment Club, where he has taught many students the fundamentals of investing and finance. For the past two years, Merrill has participated in the DECA chapter at Conestoga, and competed in PFN (Principles of Finance) and BLTDM (Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making), placing first at the state competition both years and representing Conestoga at Nationals.

Merrill also belongs to Conestoga’s Biology Club, Economics Club, Aerospace Club and Chess Club, among other clubs at the school.

“Josh has a tremendous work ethic,” said Diamond. “He is extremely focused in everything he does and is always pushing others to work that much harder.”

The Conestoga senior, who has played baseball since his Tee-ball days, said his favorite baseball mentor is his first one – his father, Andrew.

“He never pressured me into doing anything or never got mad at me for underperforming, and I can’t count the hours we spent together at a field or cage or talking about baseball,” said Merrill. “He taught me a strong work ethic, and an even temperament and positive outlook no matter the situation. In my opinion, these are two of the most important qualities any athlete can have.”

Diamond said, “Josh, along with this entire [Conestoga baseball] senior class, has just been a terrific group of young men to coach and they are going to be missed. They have made a lasting impression on our baseball program.”

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