Every coach likes their first-year players to contribute.
But Husson College’s freshmen have not only contributed, they’ve played a vital role in the Eagles march to the championship round of the North Atlantic Conference baseball tournament.
Husson faces Castleton State beginning at noon today at East Field in Glens Falls, N.Y., needing one win to claim the title. Castleton State has to beat Husson twice.
Husson’s key freshman contributors include Ethan Guerette, Tom Crews, Logan York, Chris Maguire, and Ryan Arsenault.
Shortstop Guerette of Sabattus is Husson’s leading hitter at .333 and leads the team in runs scored with 34. The Eagle lead-off hitter is tied for the team lead in homers with three and has also driven in 16 runs en route to All-NAC First Team recognition.
Speedy center fielder Crews from Bangor is the third-leading hitter at .290 and leads the team in stolen bases with 14 in 16 attempts. He has scored 25 runs and driven in 15. He is an All-NAC second-team pick.
Left fielder York of Presque Isle is hitting .272 with 11 RBIs and third baseman Maguire of Orland is at .269 with 18 RBIs which are second-most on the team.
They have also been solid defensively.
And freshman lefty Arsenault of Portland, an All-NAC second-team choice, anchors the pitching staff with a team-best 3.12 earned run average to go with his 3-3 record. He allowed just four runs in his three losses.
“They produced right off the bat and they’ve continued to do so,” said interim head coach Jason Harvey, who is filling in for the recovering John Winkin. “They’re all very competitive and they’ve all previously played in big-game situations in their careers which has paid off this year.”
Guerette got off to a slow start but said hitting is contagious and once his teammates started to drive the ball, he followed suit.
“I’ve been seeing the ball well and I’m confident and more relaxed at the plate now,” said Guerette who went 6-for-10 in Husson’s NAC tourney wins over Castleton State and Thomas..
Maguire admitted he had the “first-year jitters” early in the season but once those left, he was able to “step it up.”
He snapped out of a recent slump by “going back to basics.”
York said the fact he and his freshman teammates had extensive high school and American Legion experience has been “very important” in their success and development.
Crews said the thing that has pleased him the most is the fact “I feel I’ve helped the team.”
He also credited Winkin with doing a “great job recruiting.”
“And things look good for years to come,” added Guerette.
Walton signs NLI with UMaine
Shane Walton of Bangor, who earlier this year verbally committed to play baseball at the University of Maine in the fall, has signed a National Letter of Intent with the program.
Walton, a third baseman for coach Jeff Fahey’s Rams, originally was going to be a walk-on player at UMaine. Instead, he will receive athletic aid after scholarship money became available, according to UMaine coach Steve Trimper.
“The thing about Shane that has impressed me is, physically he’s more mature, he’s stronger,” Trimper said. “He’s throwing the ball very well. His arm’s really improved a lot.”
Trimper hopes to convert the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Walton into a second baseman, where he would be the heir apparent to Danny Menendez, who will be a senior at UMaine next season.
Walton will become the third Bangor High player on the Bears’ roster in the fall, joining senior infielder Brian Hackett and sophomore pitcher Jimmy Cox. Trimper and his staff have been impressed with what they’ve seen from Walton already this spring.
Freshman Jarrett Lukas of Old Town also is UMaine’s starting third baseman.
“He’s going to give Danny [Menendez] some competition next year,” Trimper said. “Bangor has had a lot of success and Jeff [Fahey] does a great job. Shane comes from a winning program.”
UMaine will welcome in six other freshman scholarship players, including pitchers Keith Bilodeau, A.J. Bazdanes, Pat Quinn and Matt Klaczkiewicz, along with outfielder Taylor Lewis and infielder Kyle Stilphen of Pittston, who stars at Gardiner High School.