There’s never been a summer quite like this one, at least when it comes to Seacoast Region baseball prospects.
The Cape League. The NECBL. The Futures League. The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Guys from the area left their marks in each of them, sometimes in scintillating fashion.
And sometimes in head-to-head situations.
Three years ago, shortstop Kyle Ball and center fielder Collin Shapiro formed the defensive spine of a talented Exeter Post 32 team that finished as the runner-up in the American Legion state tournament for the second year in a row.
Last week, they were on opposite sides of the NECBL championship series, with Ball’s Keene Swamp Bats sweeping Shapiro’s Martha’s Vineyard Sharks in a best-of-three.
Ball was arguably the league’s best hitter during the playoffs, batting .450 (9-for-20), with a league-best two home runs and five RBI. His walk-off single ended a division final series against the Valley Blue Sox, and he followed that up with a 5-for-5, three-RBI, three-run game in the series opener against the Sharks.
The infielder will head back to Stetson (Fla.) for his junior year after a summer that saw him bat .290 during the regular season with 24 RBI.
Shapiro batted .293 for Martha’s Vineyard with a homer and 18 RBI, collecting nine hits in his last nine games. The former Phillips Exeter standout heads into his junior year at UMass, where he was the team’s top hitter as a sophomore.
Erick Zecha carried the torch for the Monadnock Region in high-level competition. The Keene High graduate and RPI player completed his second summer tour of duty with the Swamp Bats, celebrating the league title. Zecha threw 17 innings over 13 relief appearances, walked 13 and struck out 20. Among the right-hander’s highlights was a big late-season win over North Adams that moved Keene to the top of the division standings. He capped a gem by starter David Johnson, fanning four over the final 2.1 innings.
Former Portsmouth and Exeter standout Kyle Maurice ended up batting .299 for the Mohawk Valley DiamondDogs in the PGCBL, despite a summer that was bisected by a serious illness. He missed three full weeks of action, even returning home, before returning for the playoffs — and homering.
The plan is for Maurice to transition to first base in his junior year at UMass-Lowell. There’s even a chance the River Hawks could sport an All-Seacoast right side of the infield, with touted Spaulding product Keagan Calero joining the program.
Calero, just weeks removed from his high school graduation, handled himself just fine in the Futures League, batting a respectable .263 with the North Shore Navigators.
“I know I needed to get ready for the big step to D-I,” Calero said. “This league was perfect.”
Cody Morissette will return to Boston College armed with even more confidence and proving he can hit in the vaunted Cape League.
The former Exeter High School standout took a week to adjust to the league’s unrelenting pitching, going 0-for-11 to start his tenure with the Bourne Braves, with seven strikeouts.
“I wasn’t ready for that at first,” he said. “But once I changed my mindset, got back to work, I had pretty good success and it worked out pretty well.”
Morissette, who batted .320 during his freshman season at BC and led the team with 41 RBIs, won’t be draft-eligible until after his junior year, but this summer reaffirmed that trajectory. He was also selected as a reserve for the Cape League All-Star Game.
Pitchers Kevin Gould and Trevor LaBonte both showed they could pitch in the NECBL.
Two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Gould, a St. Thomas Aquinas product headed into his senior year at Endicott College, was superb for the Valley Blue Sox.
In eight appearances — six of them starts — he went 5-0 with a 2.45 ERA, striking out 19 and walking nine in 36.2 innings. He threw 2.1 more scoreless innings in the playoffs and was a Fan Vote nominee for the NECBL All-Star Game.
LaBonte, the former York star who’ll be a sophomore at Maryland, was named Pitcher of the Week after a strong outing early in the season. He ended up shutting down after five appearances, pitching just 20.1 innings.
Like Morissette, outfielder Ben Malgeri received an All-Star nod. His came in the Futures League, where he was a center fielder and productive clean-up hitter for the North Shore Navigators.
His final numbers — .333, four homers, 27 RBI — impressed, but so did the tool he displayed in the field, at the plate and on the bases.
The former Exeter standout said he’s proud to part of the current wave of Seacoast collegiate standouts, which may be the biggest wave yet.