With freshly laid grass and their newly installed sports facilities, the Oyster River Boys’ Baseball team is looking forward to a strong season after their success in 2017.
Pitcher and center fielder, Brennen Oxford (‘18) and middle infielder, Tyler McKenna (‘18) are shaping up to be pivotal parts of this year’s success, following their commitments to Wake Forest University and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, respectively.
Both Oxford and McKenna have been working hard year round, playing with their club teams, and preparing themselves to lead the team.
McKenna noted that, “being a leader is definitely a great trait to have, especially when trying to get recruited and that’s something St. Joe’s told me they noticed about me.”
Players and coaches alike hope that the current college-ready strength will lend itself well over the course of the 2018 season, especially when combined with the diverse group of players the team fosters. As commits, Oxford and McKenna are looking towards bringing confidence to the team, bonding the team together, and sharing their experiences and advice to their teammates.
Despite losing two key college commits last year, Aidan Yoder (‘17), who is now playing at Wheaton College, and Benjamin Issak (‘17), who is at Suffolk University, the team is still bound to excel, according to pitcher and infielder, Myles Carrico (‘20).
“I think our team will be very strong this year. Our coach is working endlessly to get our team ready for this season, and hopefully we will make a run in the playoffs,” said Carrico. “Brennen and Tyler bring so much talent to the table, and when they play well, it’s contagious and the rest of the team follows,” he added.
Oxford supported this idea and said that, “the confidence I bring to the team helps my teammates play more comfortably and play less uptight.”
First baseman and shortstop, Max Lewis (‘19), agrees with Oxford and has confidence in the two college commits and the elements they bring to the team. Lewis noted that, “both Brennen and Tyler bring a lot of experience and poise to the team. They do a great job of telling people what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it.”
Center fielder and shortstop, Owen Tonkin (‘19), has similar sentiments. Tonkin mentioned that, “Brennen and Tyler are both extremely talented and each are able to bring a unique set of skills and perspectives based off of their own experiences.”
Similarly to the players, the boys’ baseball head coach, Craig Walfield, believes both Oxford and McKenna are going to be key players in the success of the team this season. He explained that, “Brennen is an exceptional baseball player that at any time can change the direction of a game in our favor. Tyler is also an exceptional athlete that can play any position on the field.” He added, “when you have players like these two, it makes a coach’s job easier! Both Brennen and Tyler bring that experience and excellence factor to the team.”
In addition to bringing talent to the team, both Oxford and McKenna are very familiar with the recruiting process and have been able to give their teammates valuable advice on their collegiate athletic searches, particularly to Lewis and Tonkin.
Lewis noted that, “Brennen and Tyler have told me to explore every [college or recruiting] option that presents itself because you never know what will happen. They told me to never take advantage of any of it.”
Along with this, Oxford and McKenna have given their teammates an insider’s look as to what it takes, both physically and mentally, to become a committed athlete.
Lewis and Tonkin both said they are fortunate to be able to look up to Oxford and McKenna to have something to compare their abilities and skills to, which is especially useful as they are trying to boost their chances of getting recruited.
Currently, both Lewis and Tonkin are uncertain as to where they want to go, though Lewis is considering attending a Division III school and Tonkin is interested in both Division I and Division III schools.
Despite this uncertainty, Lewis and Tonkin said that playing with Oxford and McKenna has still given them confidence in the sense that they know they can commit themselves, even though New Hampshire is not primarily known for producing baseball players.
According to “Current MLB players from New England States” written by Daigo Fujiwara, only three players in the Major League Baseball (MLB) are from New Hampshire.
However, Tonkin noted that, “playing around guys that have already committed to good schools shows me that that goal of commitment is attainable.”
In addition to Tonkin, Lewis mentioned that having two commits on the team has further inspired him to want to play in college. Lewis said, “the commits have definitely made me want to continue my baseball career, mostly just with how fun they make the sport for me.”
Along with Oxford and McKenna, Hagan Corrigan (‘18) and Zach Leichtman (‘18), round out the team’s group of seniors and are also looking forward to providing leadership to the younger players.
Corrigan mentioned that, “baseball is definitely a game of ups and downs and as a senior, having experienced a lot of that teaches you to be mindful of your emotions on the field. A lot of the younger guys are not used to being outplayed by their competition so it’s important that the seniors tell them to not let some mistakes affect their performance.”
In addition to the senior’s leadership, the publicity that Oxford and McKenna bring to the team, from people beyond the ORCSD community, is also advantageous to the underclassmen who are aspiring commits.
Carrico stated that he has yet to start his college search, though “both Brennen’s talent and Tyler’s talent bring in a lot of scouts to our games.” This high presence of scouts means his recruiting process has been jump-started.
With the contributions such as these from the future and the current commits, the remaining players and coaches alike believe that the team will be a contender for a state title this year.
Walfield said that, “we have become one of the better programs in the state.” He added, “I have a great feeling about this group of players and our chances this year.”
The boys are to begin showcasing their skills and chasing their goals on April 11th, where they will open their season at home against John Stark.
Written by Abby Schmitt