The Day After

This day is always has a weird feeling.  The day following the last game of the season.  Yesterday, we (Hale-Ray) lost our 2nd round state game against Wamogo 7-5.  Wamogo is a good team, hell they have 18 wins but we felt that they were for the taking.  It just so happens that they were better than us yesterday, but not by much.  It was a tough way to go but our kids can hold their heads high.  They have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  They battled through some adversary this year and when all is said and done, we still had the tying runs on base in the 6th and the tying run at the plate in the 7th, we just couldn’t get that big hit.  You really can’t ask for much more from a team.

I will take away a lot from this past season: Humility after a 1-10 JV season, pride in our seniors, excitement in our future and the fact that I need to continue to work hard to become a better coach.

Every year you have seniors that leave a program, this years bunch were a special group of guys.  They made the states in all three major sports (soccer, basketball, baseball), league playoffs in two( soccer, basketball), double-digit wins in all three sports after not having more than seven wins the previous year.  While they didn’t win a championship during their tenure, I will look back on these guys as winners and true leaders.  I wish I could mold future seniors into their likeness.

Kenny Conover struggled with injuries for all four of his seasons.  He came in as the starter at 2b, got injured and lost his spot.  He battled through some tough spots and by the end of the season, he earned his spot back and was great defensively for us.  Kenny was the ultimate team player.  He was positive, loud, passionate, confident and really competitive.  He’ll be going to UConn and I know what ever he chooses to do, Kenny will succeed because of how much he cares about what he does.  He has been one of my favorite kids I have coached in my 11 years there.

Rob Michaud started playing baseball last year.  One of the benefits of being such a small school is we usually don’t cut kids.  rob decided to come out his junior year with no baseball experience.  By the end of this season his growth was remarkable.  He went from a junior who I had to show how to swing a bat, throw, catch and just about everything else to a senior, who in his last game, got his 1st two varsity hits.  His smile as he got to 1st base made all that work worth it. 

Pete Olsen went from this average sized freshman to a 6’5″ athlete over his four years.  This year he was our #1 pitcher and our clean-up hitter.  His last two games may have been his best.  He went 3-4 and threw a complete game on Tuesday against Westbrook and again went 3-4 against Wamogo yesterday.  Pete isn’t a vocal leader but I wish all kids had his work ethic and fire.  Pete’s downsize is that’s he’s to hard on himself, and that’s not really a bad thing.  He didn’t want to be just another player.  Pete was selected as an honorable mention in our conference and he’ll be going to Keene St. next year where the baseball coach is getting a hidden gem.  With his skills and work ethic, he can have a great college career.  Not to mention, one of the nicest and most polite kids I have coached.

Zach Lafemina was our best player this year.  That’s a simple fact since he was our lone 1st team conference player and we found out yesterday that Zach made 1st team all-state.  Only the 3rd baseball player to do so from our school.  One look at Zach and you may write him off.  He’s short and doesn’t seem that strong.  Looks sure are deceiving.  He is lightning fast and pound-for-pound our strongest kid.  He plays a D-1 level centerfield and it’s obvious I’m not the only one who thinks so.  It’s safe to say we have never had a player like him before and it could be a while before we do again.  A special player who is bringing his skills to Avery Point UConn next year.

JT Smith is going down as one of the best athletes at our school.  All-State twice in soccer.  An All-American soccer scholar-athlete this past fall.  2nd team all-state in basketball as a senior while leading the states in steals.  This spring he was chosen to play in the Senior  all-star game as a catcher.  The crazy thing is, golf may be his best sport.  JT has started in every sport since his freshman year.  He is about a humble a star as you will find.  He always gives credit to his teammates as he leads and forces them to be better.  JT is a fiery competitor and always wants the hardest assignment.  He was the keeper in soccer, the point guard in basketball and our catcher.  It’s been an absolute joy to watch him play these past four years and he should be proud of his great four years in Hale-Ray.  He leaves a legacy at our school that may never be seen again.    Syracuse is getting one helluva kid and should thank their lucky stars that Cornell was dumb enough not to take him.

These five guys will be missed and now it is the responsibility of our juniors to make sure that the team is left in good hands.  Tyler Rand, Jeremy Francese, Harry Martin, Matt Wells and Shawn Carlson will be next years leaders and I have full confidence that we will continue to have success in the Hale-ray baseball program.

Thank you guys for a great four years both on and off the field.  I am proud of each of you and am excited for your futures.  Always remember your roots and you will always be a member of the baseball family.

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6 Responses to “The Day After”

  1. A wonderful tribute to a great group of athletes.

  2. Pete Olsen Says:

    Very nice!! I look forward to seeing this post every year, I appreciate that you take the time to honor the seniors and obviously this years version is especially special to me. Thanks for all your hard work, effort and support that you have put into developing this group of seniors over the last four years!

  3. Terrific write-up Coach. I’m sure all five seniors will remember, with fondness and gratitude, all you did for them. Your mentoring will certainly serve as their model when it’s their turn to coach. Congratulations Seniors, Congratulations Hale-Ray baseball.

  4. J.T. Smith Says:

    Thanks for everything you have done for me Coach! You have been a true mentor but more importantly a great friend.

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