Weeks before his third season of high school baseball, Korie Likes was counting down the days to what he was sure would be string of standout performances.
The incoming senior at Montezuma-Cortez High School worked in fall and winter to hone his hitting skills and strengthen his arm to solidify his status as a college prospect.
Before his 2020 prep season ever got underway, however, Likes and his teammates received word that the Colorado High School Activities Association had delayed the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the nation.
Although disappointed, the standout first baseman and outfielder committed to making the most of the situation and turned his attention toward batting cages, practice mounds and club baseball.
“I just had to stay on track and start working out harder to earn a spot on a college roster,” Likes said. “It’s tough; there are millions of kids out there with the talent to play college baseball and that just motivates me to play better.”
After working out with several high school teammates and M-CHS manager Tim Passell during a series of informal practice sessions, Likes joined the Rocky Mountain Oysters club baseball team in Grand Junction and played multiple games.
He also suited up with many of his high school teammates for the Cortez Freedom Cats, a club team managed by Passell, to keep his dreams of college baseball alive.
“The thought of playing college baseball is the fuel I’ve had since I was a kid,” Likes said. “I’ve always loved the game, and I’ve got big shoes to fill in my family. I just want to surpass everybody and be the best that I can.”
Despite a canceled season, Likes has attracted attention from a handful of college coaches while attending college camps.
Among those camps was one hosted by Dordt University in Sioux City, Iowa, and after watching Likes compete in the multiday event, coaches at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics invited Likes to take an official visit.
“I talked to Dordt’s coach, and they really liked (Likes),” Passell said. “They liked that he is a leader. He just wants to perform.”
Likes, who batted .362 and drove in 17 runs during his sophomore season, also hopes to play college football. Last season, he caught 27 passes for 421 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Likes also prides himself as a leader who excels in the classroom and serves as an active member of his community.
“Everybody has to have a leader, and I like to fill those shoes,” the incoming M-CHS senior said. “I like to keep everybody positive. I’m a Christian, and I believe that a team is only as strong as its weakest link.”
For now, Likes plans to work out at the CrossFit MRF gym in Cortez and develop his ability to hit to the opposite side of the field.
“My biggest goal for the rest of the summer is to get a couple more offers for college baseball and see our team keep improving,” Likes said. “That way, we can have a good (high school) season if we get one.”