Our All-Herald Baseball Team is full of big names, as the local talent continued to shine throughout the 2017 season. All good teams need strong pitching and great offense, and our team has that and more. With all but one team in the area reaching the postseason, the names on this list showed they could not only complete, but win against anyone.
New Britain’s Will Homar is no stranger to making the All-Herald Team, making this list for the third straight season. The junior was named all-conference for the third time and All-State while guiding New Britain to a 15-win season and an eight-seed. An ace on the mound that New Britain always relies on in big games, Homar went 5-2. He also came through at the plate, hitting .371 and earned the Hurricanes’ Golden Spikes Award as MVP. Having been selected to participate in the Junior Select All-Star Game, Homar should be poised for an even bigger senior season.
Danniel Rivera was just as important to New Britain as Homar, and the sophomore shortstop showed he is a player that needs to be watched over his final two seasons. Named as a possible All-American candidate prior to the start of the year, Rivera proved why, hitting .340 with three home runs on his way to being named all-conference. His play on the field also earned him the team’s Golden Bat Award.
Southington finished right behind New Britain in Class LL with a pair of players leading the way. John Mikosz dominated the competition both on the mound and at the plate. The senior compiled a 7-0 record and did not allow an earned run all season. At the plate, Mikosz hit .300 with three home runs. He was named both All-CCC and All-State for the second consecutive year and was invited to Senior All-Star Game and the Connecticut vs. Massachusetts All-Star Game. He will be heading to Wheaton College to continue his baseball career.
Every team needs a good bat and Jake Babon provided that for Southington. The senior third baseman led the Blue Knights with a .413 average while also hitting three home runs, often coming up with the big hits when the team needed them. Babon was rewarded with a selection to the Senior All-Star Game and was an all-conference choice. Babon will be playing at the next level at Western Connecticut State.
Goodwin Tech was the most successful of the area teams, compiling a 19-7 record, reaching the Class M quarterfinals. As such, the Gladiators placed the most players on the All-Herald Baseball Team, with three.
Paul Prior, the team’s junior shortstop, proved himself to be a force both at the plate and in the field, earning First-Team All-Constitution State Conference honors. He led Goodwin Tech in every offensive category expect doubles. Prior batted .415 with a .491 on-base percentage and a .691 slugging percentage. He also had three home runs, seven doubles, five triples and drove in 34 runs while scoring 35 times. Prior stole 17 bases, getting caught only once. In the field, Prior had a .920 fielding percentage.
Teammate Tommy Hughes was another All-CSC honoree. The junior, came through in every facet of the game for the Gladiators. On the mound, Hughes was 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with 77 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. Offensively, he hit .281, had a .414 on-base percentage with 23 RBI and 26 runs. Hughes is currently being recruited by Eastern Connecticut State University and Western New England University.
Dave Plourde, the senior of the trio, proved just as effective for Goodwin Tech as Hughes. He played first base, outfield and saw time on the mound. As a pitcher, Plourde went 6-3 with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 66 strikeouts in 55 innings. At the plate, he batted .277 with a .430 on-base percentage, 17 RBI and 22 runs scored. Along with an all-conference nod, Plourde won the team’s Coaches Award.
Berlin reached the postseason yet again, going 12-8, and had a number of candidates that could make this list. Matt Vernacatola makes our squad after a strong season on the mound for the Redcoats. The senior pitched many of the team’s big games and earned All-CCC for the first time as a senior as well as the 2017 Pitching Redcoat Award. He is off to Roger Williams University to pitch.
Gianni Fanelli is the second Redcoat on our All-Herald Team and continues the trend of rising young players in the area. The sophomore centerfielder hit .377 with 29 base hits, including six doubles and 25 RBI, and struck out a minuscule two times. Fanelli also stole 16 bases on his way to being named all-conference. With two years still to go on the Berlin baseball team, expect Fanelli to only get better and become one of the key players to watch in the area.
Since a pitcher began our All-Herald Baseball Team, it’s only natural a pitcher closes it. Newington’s Josh Leclair earns the final spot after finishing an outstanding junior season in which he earned All-CCC recognition. Leclair lead the team with a 1.38 ERA over 33 innings and won the Indians’ Pitcher of the Year Award.
With power, speed and versatility, this squad could beat anyone in the state.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach