From the Portsmouth Herald
by Mike Zhe
Friday January 23, 2015
SPECIAL CAST OF TALENT:
LOCALS CELEBRATE THEIR COLLEGE BASEBALL SIGNINGS
NEWINGTON — For Zack Quintal, playing baseball at the University of Maine wasn’t only not on his radar a couple years ago, it wasn’t even in his geographic focus. “When I first started the whole recruiting process,” said Quintal, “I wasn’t even that interested in the program. I wanted to go down south and play in the warm weather.” For teammate Zach Hodges, one day patrolling the outfield for his home State U. was a dream. “Definitely, it was always on my radar,” he said. “UMaine was always something I had on my mind.” They came at their commitments from different directions, but Quintal and Hodges — Marshwood High School seniors who have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their careers at Maine — are the rare high school tandem in these parts who are both holding their tickets to Division I.
On Thursday, they were part of an even larger distinguished local group. A collection of nearly a dozen local high school seniors from Maine and New Hampshire gathered at USA Training Centers, where they’ve honed their games in the offseason with USA Mavericks baseball teams, to celebrate their commitments to play baseball in college, including Division I commits Quintal, Hodges and pitcher/infielder Casey Aubin of Oyster River (UMass.). “It’s definitely an honor to be part of such a great class,” said Christian Devine, a senior at Exeter who’ll play at Division II St. Michael’s (Vt.) College. “I’ve grown up playing with these guys since I was, like, 9. It’s been a ride.”
“It’s special,” said Mark Constance, the director of operations and general manager of the USA Mavericks program. “This 2015 class on the Seacoast, with Marshwood, Portsmouth, Oyster River, St. Thomas, Exeter, York, Spaulding … it’s just an outstanding group of baseball players. I would hope that we had something to do with it. “You look back on previous years and it was four or five kids — the (Mike) Montvilles, the (Mike) Fransosos, the (Nate) Joneses.”
St. Thomas outfielder Ryan McKenna, another member of the local senior class, signed an NLI in November to play at Liberty (Va.) University on a partial scholarship.
Though high school practices won’t begin for more than two months, there’s no hiding the anticipation at Marshwood, which returns all nine starters from a Class A regional final team, including Quintal, Hodges and big pitcher/first baseman Jake Lebel, plus a new coach in Bryant Lausberg. “We definitely are excited,” said Lebel, who has not committed but is drawing interest from colleges at all three levels. “Everyone is prepared for this season. More than half of us are in this building at least once a week here getting work done.” That’s a group that includes Quintal, a pitcher/shortstop, who was the first in this class of Mavericks to make his Division I verbal commitment, to Maine in September 2013. “He’s been a stud ever since we were little,” said Lebel. “When I went up there,” said Quintal, “Coach (Steve) Trimper just killed the visit. It was great.” Quintal, Lebel and Hodges were also part of a Zone 5 champion Eliot Post 188 American Legion team last summer, sharing the diamond with 18- and 19-year-old standouts fresh off their freshman years at college.
“It’s definitely cool,” said Hodges. “There are also a couple other (Marshwood) guys who could play college baseball. … It would feel good to go to college coming off a state championship season.”
The aim’s the same in New Hampshire, too. Devine, a pitcher, who transferred from St. Thomas as a sophomore, wasn’t part of Exeter’s improbable state championship run in 2013, playing for the JVs. But James Peel was. Peel, the starting left fielder on that Exeter team, signed his NLI in November to play at Division II Nyack (N.Y.) College. USA Mavs teammate Josh Gagne of Spaulding is also going there.
“It’s amazing and it’s awesome,” said Peel. “I’m going to school with Josh and they’re our rival team. It’s gonna be a fun spring.”
In two-plus months, the seniors in the Maverick program, sharing this facility will be opponents. But in the heart of winter, with the baseball careers still blossoming, they could recognize being part of something collectively special that started in this program when they were still middle-schoolers.
“I can definitely appreciate it as a player,” said Quintal. “It’s interesting to see how it’s played out over the years.”
The full list includes:
Casey Aubin- Oyster River: UMass
Andrew Barnes- Spaulding: Franklin Pierce
Ryan Boldwin- Trinity: Franklin Pierce
Christian Devine- Exeter: St. Michaels(VT)
Anthony DiPrizio- Spaulding: St. Joe's of Maine
Justin Jewell- Spaulding: University of Rhode Island
Josh Gagne- Spaulding: Nyack(NY)
Zach Hodges- Marshwood: UMaine
James Peel- Exeter: Nyack(NY)
Zack Quintal: Marshwood- UMaine