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Value On The Diamond

Cranberry Township players Zach Snyder, left, and Kyle Stetitano receive $1,000 scholarships from the Butler County Area Baseball League prior to Monday night's All-Star Game at Slippery Rock University's Jack Critchfield Park. Butler Township's Logan Donnel received a $1,000 scholarship as well.

SLIPPERY ROCK — One learned how to handle mistakes. Another learned never to give up. A third learned how to be a leader.

All three — Cranberry Township's Kyle Stelitano and Zach Snyder, Butler Township's Logan Donnel — earned $1,000 in scholarship money from the Butler County Area Baseball League Monday night for conveying their thoughts on what community baseball means to them.

The three were announced winners of the BCABL's annual essay contest prior to the league's all-star game at Slippery Rock University's Critchfield Park.

The league has been awarding scholarships via this essay contest since 2010.

“It's a program this league is very proud of,” BCABL president Larry Stelitano said. “We used to determine the winners by vote of the league's coaches.

“In recent years, we've had independent parties determine the winners by reading the essays, no names attached, and voting for the winners.”

Each BCABL team pays an annual $450 league fee. The scholarship money is derived from those funds.

Donnel is attending Clarion University, majoring in early childhood education. He hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

He's been playing baseball in the Center Township area since age 6.

“I never got any hits when I was younger,” Donnel recalled. “The only time I ever got on base was if I walked or got hit by a pitch. I struck out in every game.

“I watched all my friends get hit after hit. I prayed that I could one day be that good.”

Around the age of 10, Donnel began hitting the ball. Now 20 years old, he is completing his final year of baseball.

“I remember the thrill of just getting the bat on the ball,” he said.

Donnel added that the biggest lesson he learned from baseball is to never give up.

“Mentally, that carries over to everything you do in life,” he said. “You only fail when you quit.

“As long as you're trying, you're not failing.”

Snyder is majoring in biology at Penn State University. He described baseball as “a game of mistakes” and eventually recognized it was OK to make them.

“Players make mistakes in baseball more than any other sport,” Snyder said. “You fail a lot in this game.

“I have become comfortable with making mistakes because of the regularity of them in the game of baseball. You're never happy with them, but you learn to overcome them.”

He also recognized that encouraging teammates can mean a lot to that person and make a difference in his performance and his life.

“Support can be a powerful thing,” Snyder said.

Kyle Stelitano is majoring in marketing/communications at Penn State Behrend. He has been playing baseball since age 3.

He described baseball as “the most influential thing I have ever done in my life.”

Stelitano became a youth umpire at age 12 and is now a full patch umpire.

“Umpiring has given me a totally new perspective,” he said. “It does force you to become a leader. You're in charge of the game out there.

“I've always had respect for the game and the umpires. But actually being an umpire has shown me how challenging that side of the game can be.”

Stelitano's essay stated that, through community baseball, “I learned to always just have fun and to not put too much pressure on myself. No one is perfect and no one will ever be.

“Baseball is a life altering game that has taught me important lessons for the rest of my life.”