The Yarmouth baseball team made its annual spring break trek to Florida earlier this month, where a series of games showed just as much promise for the future as it did for the season ahead.
While many of their classmates left school ready for a vacation week of relaxation and fun, the Clippers were already well on their way to Vero Beach, Fla., for fun of their own, at an athletic facility known to many as “Dodgertown,” due to its previous role as the spring training home to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Vero Beach now uses the facilities to host sporting tournaments and other special events.
With a chance to further prepare for the season, despite the fact that it has already started, many players looked at it as a great opportunity.
Ethan Perrier, a sophomore and one of the newest promotions to the varsity roster, feels lucky to be one of the youngest on the team and knows how important the trip was for him as a player.
“It feels great knowing that I’m one of the only sophomores on varsity,” said Perrier. “Florida, to me, is a time to work on the weaknesses you have and is a time to get better.”
In a trip that included games against other teams from around the country that made the journey to Dodgertown, as well as inter-team competition, Yarmouth players got a chance to prove themselves worthy for a starting position on the varsity roster.
The team began their time in Florida with a 4-1 victory over East Granby, Conn., in a game which Yarmouth got hits from eight different players, including some from the youngsters on the squad.
Relief pitching was what coach Marc Halsted noted as the highlight.
“Matt Highland was the story of the game,” wrote Halsted in his Dodgertown updates. “Three-plus innings of winning shutout relief, striking out three and walking just one in an efficient 48-pitch performance.”
Highland, a senior, who splits his time between third base and the mound, will likely be a key to the Clippers’ success this season. With his last season at Yarmouth on its way, Highland is hungry for a Class B state title.
“This will be my last year playing competitive baseball and I want to end on a positive, winning note,” said Highland. “We have a lot of senior experience on the team this year and should definitely compete in Class B.”
The Clippers’ senior experience was noticeable in their 8-7 loss to Mashpee, Mass., a game which Yarmouth trailed, 8-1. With a near comeback in the final innings, Yarmouth showed that when it’s down, it certainly isn’t out. What has turned into a potentially dangerous offense, one through nine in the order, is sure to be a valuable asset in what is an always competitive league.
While the senior presence is encouraging for the season ahead, many of the young players made a splash down south, including sophomore Connor Lainey.
Lainey, whom Perrier claims was the most impressive player in Florida, swayed the coaches enough to win a spot on the varsity roster.
“Basically, for me, I was able to prove myself in hitting,” said Lainey. “I was seeing the ball well, making solid contact and trying to adjust when necessary. Besides that, I tried to stay loose and be coachable. That gave me the opportunity to be pulled up and start for the varsity team to help start the season on a good note.”
The young talent of Perrier and Lainey is only part of the promising future.
Sophomores Jordan Brown, Grant Gilman, Ned Pennoyer and Matt Ingalls all batted above .300 between official and inter-squad games.
With young players stepping up and senior leadership on full display in the Dodgertown complex, the Clippers (who opened countable league play with wins over Freeport, Wells and Lake Region) are hoping they can keep it rolling into the heart of the regular season and help them make another deep playoff run.
If not this year, the team is well positioned for success in the seasons ahead.
Yarmouth baseball coach Marc Halsted talks to his team during the Clippers’ recent trip to Florida.