It wasn’t the greatest sendoff to Corey Furman’s career. But the ride was something he’ll never forget.
Furman, a Wyoming Area graduate and Bucknell University star player, was named the District I Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA), the organization announced recently.
A two-time First Team All-Patriot League selection, Furman hit .388 with 11 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs despite missing 20 games due to injuries this past season.
“Coming in as a walk-on freshman at Bucknell you don’t know what to expect,” Furman said. “Receiving that award is something I couldn’t imagine after playing four years.”
Bucknell finished the 2014 season with a 31-21-1 record, equaling the program standard for wins in a season. The Bison won the Patriot League regular-season title and swept through the Patriot League Tournament. Bucknell then posted its second NCAA Regional win when it defeated Liberty.
Bucknell’s starting designated hitter, Furman was leading the Patriot League in hitting in late April when he suffered a season-ending hand injury, forcing him to miss the Bison’s run to the Patriot League title and NCAA Tournament games.
A left-handed hitter, Furman remained with the team throughout the postseason and did make a pinch-running appearance in the team’s final game vs. Arkansas at the NCAA College World Series Charlottesville Regional.
“It was a nice sendoff,” Furman said. “I felt a lot of appreciation for the fans. It was nice to get on the field for one last time and say goodbye to my entire career.”
The NCBWA District I consists of players from schools located in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. There are nine districts across the country.
Furman ranked in the top 10 in the Patriot League in virtually every offensive category at the time of his injury. He finished the campaign with a .422 on-base percentage and a .560 slugging percentage, while piling up 65 total bases.
“He was our captain and voted unanimously,” Bucknell head coach Scott Heather said. “After getting hurt he continued to be our leader and he almost turned into an assistant coach in the dugout. He was on top of our morale. When we needed a boost he was there. We weren’t able to have his bat but he was certainly instrumental in helping us win.”
A team co-captain, Furman wrapped up his career as a .315 hitter in 118 games. He drove in 49 runs and scored 54 while earning 90 starts, mainly at designated hitter and the outfield.
“Corey was a guy that didn’t too do much,” Heather said. “He took what the pitcher gave him. Offensively this year he was an elite player. Through his first stretch before he hurt his shoulder he was statistically one of the best hitters in the nation.”
Furman injured his shoulder in a game against Central Michigan at Spring Training. Furman took away a home run from a Central Michigan hitter, and in the process he separated the shoulder. He re-injured the shoulder a few weeks later on a slide against Army. The Wyoming Area product then broke a bone in his hand on a swing against Lafayette on April 19.
“No one wants that to happen in their senior year,” Furman said. “But we had a lot of good teams over my career. Winning a Patriot League title and a regional game this year was awesome. That was the best experience I had playing baseball in my entire life.”
It would have been easy for Furman to walk away because of his injury. But he didn’t. The former Warrior stuck by his team through thick and thin over the final weeks of the season, making it to the College World Series.
“You put so much time into it,” he said. “You really get close to the guys and they become your best friends. Being around those guys for that last stretch is something you’ll never give up.”
Furman, who graduated from Bucknell as a Chemical Engineer, will begin working at First Quality Enterprises in Hazleton, starting Monday.