Hastings celebrated as coach

Over 100 youth baseball players and parents came together March 15 at Eastbluff Park to honor Duane Hastings, founder of the Newport Beach Bat Rays baseball program.

Duane and his wife, Mary Pat, were presented with several gifts of appreciation for their efforts in improving the level of baseball in Newport Beach. Duane Hastings is handing over the reins to Scott Liolios, after serving as the head coach, key fundraiser, team manager and passionate booster of the Bat Rays.

Several former players, now playing for Corona del Mar High, spoke to the audience relating their experiences while playing on the Bat Rays team.

Hastings was a scratch golfer who had dreams of playing on the Golden State Tour. However, his boys and the love of baseball changed those plans.

Hastings' dream was to assemble a team of friends who had a passion for baseball. His objective was to engage them at a higher level of competition and keep them together to ultimately play on their high school teams.

From his original 2004 team, 10 are currently playing varsity baseball. There are seven at Corona del Mar and one each at JSerra, Mater Dei and Phillips Academy (East Coast).

CdM recently won the Newport Elks Tournament Foothill Bracket title.

Over the years, Hastings put together fundraising efforts, obtaining over $50,000 in donations to improve the baseball field and facilities at Eastbluff Park. In addition he met and coordinated with city officials for the field improvement.

He has spent countless hours coaching practices, games and tournaments; coordinating games with other teams, as well as organizing for uniforms and umpires. A real highlight for the teams were the summers when he took them along with some parents to Cooperstown, N.Y. to play in a week-long tournament.

Hastings has a real passion for baseball. He played throughout high school and was the starting shortstop for the University of Washington. He batted .500 in his junior year and was named to the All-Pac 10 team.

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