Casey Aubin and Oyster River takes on Portsmouth High

Great story in Friday's Portsmouth Herald about USA Maverick and Oyster River High School player Casey Aubin

Posted May. 21, 2015 

By Mike Zhe

DURHAM — Forget about perfect games. Casey Aubin is working on practically a perfect season.

Six times this season the senior right-hander has taken the mound for Oyster River High School. Six times he’s won, allowing a total of four runs in those games.

In 43 innings, he’s struck out 63 batters and walked just four, and should be on everyone’s short list of candidates for Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire.

“His confidence,” said Oyster River coach Craig Walfield, “is through the roof right now.”

The seventh time he takes the mound will be Friday, in an anticipated game at Portsmouth, facing a team that’s swung the bat well against him in the past. With OR sitting in second place at 11-2 and the Clippers at 10-3, there are all kinds of playoff implications.
Plus one lights-out pitcher.

“It goes with experience, getting comfortable with pitches,” said Aubin. “Now I’m pounding the strike zone consistently and forcing them to hit it, as opposed to giving them free passes.”

The Bobcats’ rise from the ashes has been documented. Three years ago, Aubin, catcher Tim Stringer, third baseman Chris Clement and right fielder Pieter Zwart were all freshmen playing on a varsity team that went 2-14.

The group stuck together and got better, making the playoffs as sophomores and reaching the quarterfinals last year, finishing with an 11-7 record.

“I didn’t really know what to expect because I was new here,” said Stringer, who’d just moved to the area from Olympia, Wash., with his father stationed in the military. “(Coach Walfield) was new, I was new, so it was probably different for me than from the other guys’ perspective. We were just young; we had one senior. “But we took the program and changed it. We do workouts in the winter now. We do all sorts of stuff to prepare ourselves for the season and it’s definitely showing in our record, and in our players. They’re ready to go the first day out.”

It hasn’t just been Aubin. The Bobcats are hitting .355 as a team and averaging 8.1 runs a game. Left fielder Nyles Lawson (.457), Clement (.450, 11 RBIs), Aubin (.441, 12 RBIs) and freshman center fielder Brennan Oxford (.433) are all hitting above .400.

“It’s what I thought I might have the last two years,” said Walfield. “I thought we’d be scoring six, seven runs and we didn’t. This year we’re hitting all over the place.”

But the UMass-bound Aubin is the horse they’ll try to ride deeper into the playoffs. He gets his fastball into the mid-80s but his biggest asset has been his control. Last year he went 6-2 with a 1.62 ERA, walking just a handful. “I don’t ever expect big, big strikeout games,” said Aubin. “I just want to be able to keep the team in games, in a position to win every game. This year, compared to the past, we’ve played lights-out defensively; to know, as a pitcher, that you can let them hit and there’s going to be outs made, it lets you do better.”

“He’s hitting the spots,” said Stringer. “When I call a pitch with other guys, you don’t know necessarily where it’s going to be. If I call a pitch with Casey inside, I know it’s going to be inside. If I call it up, I know it’s going to be up.”

Recruiting-wise, he put himself on the Division I map last summer, playing in showcase tournaments with the USA Mavericks. He’s also played in some showcases the summer after his sophomore year, with less than stellar results. “The first time I didn’t do so well; I was very nervous,” he said. “Last year I went in relaxed, threw really well, really hard. That was when I really got some nods from the (college) coaches and it kind of became a reality that I could play Division I.”

Part of his success at Oyster River is throwing to Stringer, an All-Division II catcher who’ll attend the Rochester Institute of Technology on an ROTC scholarship next year.

“He’s lucky he’s throwing to the same guy behind the plate,” said Walfield. “You don’t see that a lot. It’s going to be tough to replace that tandem next year.”

Of course, nobody’s ready to look too far ahead. Not with some big games remaining this year, starting in Portsmouth on Friday. Both teams will be eager to bounce back from error-plagued, one-run losses on Wednesday — OR at home to rival St. Thomas and the Clippers at Kingswood.

“We came in with a veteran squad this year but everyone’s producing,” said Aubin. “It hasn’t just been the veterans, which has been nice to see. … The whole lineup seems to contribute every day.”