This & That

What do you want to be when you grow up?

One young man from Springfield would like to work in baseball. The truth is though he isn’t so young anymore. Matt Wright is about to graduate from college. “Baseball has always been my number one sport,” he told me. “Sports were always my safe place where I had my friends. My direction probably started when I began planning for college in my junior year.” By the time high school ended, “I thought my playing days were likely behind me and after having been close to Coach [Larry] Partridge, I knew baseball would be a good direction to go.”

Wright graduated from Springfield High School in 2013 and he has been plotting ever since. He had tried a little football and basketball while he was in high school, but baseball was what fit him best. It was the only sport he stuck four years with. “You are naturally excited about certain things when you are younger. My enthusiasm for baseball though has grown since I was younger. I still like to get to the field hours early. This is really fun.”

Fun is serving as the assistant general manager of the Upper Valley Nighthawks. Many readers know the Nighthawks play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League along with the Keene Swampbats. For those who might not know, it is a high level of baseball.

The Cape League attracts the top players of this type, but every summer, the NECBL seems to take a step up the ladder to become a more attractive landing spot for prospects. Major Leaguers who either now or once called the NECBL home include: Stephen Strasburg, A.J. Pollack, Joe Nathan, Craig Breslow, Chris Denorfia, Andre Ethier, Brian Wilson, Rajai Davis, Chris Iannetta, Kevin Slowey, Ryan Hanigan, Andy LaRoche, Matt Joyce, Adam Ottavino, Alex Wood, Chris Taylor, Josh Smith, Matt Duffy, and more than a hundred more. This league is well stocked.

The Nighthawks are definitely big time for this area. Wright is thankful for his position. However, he admits he dreamed bigger. “I first applied to the Cape League, but they didn’t offer me anything which worked for me. They were willing to place me in ticket sales or marketing, but I wanted to experience something more than that. I sent Noah [Crane, founder of the Nighthawks] an email and he was willing to let me workout something more. I told him I was interested in scouting and baseball operations, working with coaches and transactions, and he said okay. In some ways I was kind of surprised how much I have been allowed to do, but obviously I am really pleased.”

I tracked down Coach Partridge in South Carolina and his first response was,  “You cannot forget Matt Wright. I knew from a young age that he had a baseball mind. He always was a thinker about the game and a nice young man. I have kind of been following him. I know he helped with the Ludlow Legion one year and now up in Maine. He’s pursuing his goal and that’s awesome.”

Up in Maine is where Wright goes to school at University of Southern Maine. His involvement up there extends to being an assistant coach at Southern Maine Community College. Wright takes particular pride in working with the outfielders, a position he played in high school.

Wright is nostalgic about his time in Springfield. His favorite day as a Cosmo was the day the baseball field was dedicated and became known as Birsky-Wyman Field. The team won one of its few games that season that day and Wright’s voice showed plenty of excitement when he spoke about the presence of Richie Wyman, Bo Birsky’s son Greg and Mike Hatt. These were people who strongly impressed Wright. “It was great to see Greg throw out the first pitch to Mr. Wyman’s son. That was the highlight of my career.”

Now he is chasing a highlight that would be much bigger. His first steps in his summer internship, which will eventually lead to his college degree, have been notable. His boss Crane says, “He has been extremely helpful to us. He gets stats to both the coaches and players to help us along and right now, he is helping me in trying to locate more pitching. He has certainly made our organization better by being here.”

Wright enjoys all he is doing, but a particularly cherished part is working with the professional scouts. He told me, “It’s enjoyable working with them. They want the kind of things I keep track of. You know, the baseball industry is really hard to get into, but I am going to keep working at it. It is all about the connections and relationships you build. I personally am a numbers guy. Numbers don’t lie. I really enjoy that part of the job as well. When I do the scouting reports at Southern Maine Community College, the players are able to see what those numbers can tell you.”

I am sitting here, hoping to be able to tell you in a few years, that Matt Wright gets a job in baseball. As he said the baseball industry is hard to get into, but he’s working hard trying to make those connections that can match his skills with a team. Good luck, Matt.

A little more field hockey

Four Bellows Falls field hockey players, along with their coach, were a part of this year’s Vermont roster for the Twin State Field Hockey Classic. Vermont won this year’s competition 3-0. Bethany Coursen had coached in this classic once before and took home a victory that time as well. New Hampshire leads the all-time series 23-11-1, but none of New Hampshire’s wins have taken place on Coursen’s watch.

Each of the four Terriers on the squad played well in the contest. The game was scoreless in the first half, but then Coursen made adjustments at halftime, which helped her team advance.

field hockey
Bellows Falls Abbe Cravinho stood out during her four year Terrier playing career, so it should not have come to anyone’s surprise, she again stood tall during the 2019 Twin State Field Hockey Game. Cravinho scored the first goal of the game, which turned out to be the game winner in the 3-0 shut out victory. Photo by Doug MacPhee

“I started by playing a sweep in front of the goalie. You don’t know what to expect with players you haven’t coached before so I played it safe. When they didn’t have any serious attempts on goal the first half, I switched the sweep to the middle as a link and we became much more of an attacking team. Abbe [Cravinho] scored an unassisted goal to start the scoring. It was nice to see her play with the strong opponents we faced throughout the state. This was a good game for her. It gave her a chance to see what it is going to be like in college.”

The three other Terriers to play were Molly Kelly, Maddie Joy, and Madison Streeter. Kelly “assisted on the second goal and held her own,” Coursen noted, going on to add, “Maddie did a good job on defense and Macie played well as a link. She plans to continue playing at Rivier College. It is really wonderful to see our girls contributing and pitching in in a game like this.”

In the not so good news department for the Terriers, the Vermont Principals Association have decided Bellows Falls will continue to compete in Division I Field Hockey for the regular season the next two years. Of course, Bellows Falls petitioned up to that level last season to challenge their current players of a year ago, who had won three consecutive titles, two in Division II and one in Division III. Of course, they won again last year. So the recent decision keeps them in the Division I tourney for the next two seasons.

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