reprinted from the Portsmouth Herald, Foster's Daily Democrat and seacoastonline
By Ryan O'Leary
Posted Jan. 25, 2016 at 7:43 PM
NEWINGTON — The process was stressful for both players, a lot less natural than keeping the hands back on a sharp breaking ball.
In the end, Mike Sterritt and Logan LaRochelle of the USA Mavericks Baseball Club went far beyond their home ballparks to find the right collegiate fit.
The teammates convened at USA Training Centers on Saturday afternoon to sign their national letters of intent, officially ending their long respective journies to college baseball.
Sterritt, a tall senior with a big left arm and bat for Exeter High School, signed with Parkland College, a two-year community college located in Champaign, Ill.
LaRochelle, a Rochester resident who plays catcher for St. Thomas Aquinas, will join the baseball team and enter the 6½-year doctoral program at Misericordia University, located in Dallas, Pa.
The boys — who faced one another in last summer’s American Legion state championship game, Sterritt with Exeter Post 32 and LaRochelle with Rochester Post 7 — have one thing in common: They both fell in love with schools far off their initial radar.
Credit USA Mavericks owner Dave Hoyt with a couple assists.
“This school just fell out of the sky for me,” LaRochelle said. “I was not looking any direction towards it, and Coach Hoyt just came out of nowhere and just put it in my view. Once I saw it I fell in love with it.”
“It was pretty stressful trying to find out what colleges worked, which ones didn’t, finding that right fit,” Sterritt said. “Now that it’s over I’m confident that I’m in the right spot.”
Let’s start with Sterritt’s story. His recruitment started with schools more recognizable to New Englanders, particularly UMass-Lowell, which showed high interest after scouting the Mavericks at the Lynn Invitational Tournament. He also had a sit-down with the head coach at UMass-Amherst and gave a private workout to Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, where former high school and legion teammate Christian Devine signed a year ago.
But Sterritt began to realize that things weren’t going to work out with those four-year schools. He turned his focus to junior college, and it was Hoyt who helped set him up with a visit to Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. The trip included a tour around campus and a private workout. And, just before hopping back on the plane and coming home, came a curveball. “Coach Hoyt calls me and goes ‘Parkland. Go to Parkland,’” Sterritt remembers of the conversation. “So I rescheduled my flight and drove like three hours to Champaign, Illinois, and I met the Parkland coach, I fell in love with the campus, the baseball field ... it was beautiful.”
LaRochelle’s journey was a bit different. Targeting the South, he had a set list of schools he was interested in, a list Hoyt helped him narrow down. With a couple suggestions. “He gave me a kind of narrowed down list, gave me a few more schools,” LaRochelle said, “and he just out of the blue gave me Misericordia University — ‘You’re going to love it there.’”
It turned out to be a good call. Assistant coach Chris Tuttle, an alumnus of the Mavericks organization, came out to meet with LaRochelle and liked what he saw. An official visit was arranged, including a meeting with Misericordia head coach Pete Egbert, and soon after came a commitment.
“Coach Egbert pretty much sealed the deal for me, just his mentality for the game and just the aura around him of working hard and the respect for the game that he has,” LaRochelle said. “That just made me really want to play for him and really encouraged me to go there.”
The boys were joined by friends and family at Saturday’s signing ceremony. All that’s left now is a bunch of anticipation, both for the long road ahead and the looming high school season that’s peeking around the corner.
“I’m just looking forward to the spring season,” said LaRochelle, looking ahead to STA, “and just trying to make a run with the group of guys we’ve got.”