Lincoln native Nick Zammarelli is pictured during a recent game with the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
(Photo by Jacqueline Marque/Newport Daily News)
A little of this, a little of that …
For the purposes of building a foundation that leads directly into his sophomore year at Elon University, Nick Zammarelli’s summertime baseball excursion with the Newport Gulls couldn’t have worked out any better.
Before undergoing surgery last week to have a cyst removed from his back, the Lincoln native was enjoying all the trappings of a real, honest-to-goodness homecoming. Zammarelli may have stayed with a host family in Middletown, but he didn’t fit the mold of a stranger in a strange city like some of his Gull teammates who flocked to the “City by the Sea” from Kentucky, Texas and California.
Whenever he stepped between the white lines at Cardines Field, Zammarelli could take confront that sitting in the stands were many of the same family members who routinely showed up to offer support and encouragement when he was a headliner at Lincoln High.
Sprinkled within the realm of familiarity were several newfound on-field aspects that you could say Zammarelli handled with aplomb – his selection to the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s All-Star team offering true validation to such thinking.
The first aspect revolved around what the NECBL decrees as proper bat ethics. Gone was the ringing “ping!” sound that ensues whenever an aluminum bat strikes a baseball. In its stead was “crack,” a natural emanation that a first-time wooden bat user like Zammarelli admitted was a refreshing change of pace.
The numbers he posted in 26 games for Newport suggest that the adjustment period was short lived. His slash line, which displays batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, read .315/.366/.467. Taking Zammarelli’s offensive production a step further, he presently ranks second on the Gulls in RBI (19) and third in hits (29).
“Honestly, I thought it would have felt a lot different. Eventually, you get to the point where you’re no longer thinking about (swinging wood as opposed to aluminum),” Zammarelli said when reached recently.
With the Gulls, Zammarelli wasn’t locked into just one position. He rotated between third base – his main position at Elon – first base, outfield and designated hitter.
“We were waiting for guys to come back from the College World Series, so I just played the outfield until they came back,” said Zammarelli, listed on Newport’s website as 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. “At the end of the year meetings (at Elon), the coaches told me that they planed to play me in the outfield in the fall. They think that the way my body is, I’ll get re-drafted more as an outfielder. I’ll take some fly balls out there, but I’m still going to play third.”
Referencing his selection in the 28th round of last year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox, Zammarelli’s tenure with the Gulls also featured a test in endurance. The NECBL packs a lot of games within roughly a two-month window where off days are seldom and late-night bus rides are common. It’s a meat grinder, but it also keeps players on their toes as far as staying the course and not slacking off.
“We started the season with nine games in nine days. There’s not much time to think about what you’re doing wrong,” Zammarelli noted. “You get into a routine the same way you do with college ball, but it’s tough. One night we got back from Vermont at three in the morning and somehow you have to find a way to wake up the next day and still go to the gym. If you don’t, you’ll only get worse.”
The decision to take care of the cyst was not one entered into lightly. Zammarelli understood that he would miss the rest of Gulls’ season, though he didn’t want to put the surgery off any more so that his fall season at Elon would be placed in jeopardy. He is staring at a four-week recovery.
“It was one of those things where some days you feel it, some days you won’t,” Zammarelli said. “(Elon head coach Mike Kennedy) agreed that I should take care of this now so I’m ready to go when I head back to school.”
In a classic case of how it never hurts to plan ahead, Zammarelli has already locked in his 2015 summer baseball plans. He will compete for the Orleans Firebirds of the prestigious Cape Cod League.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” Zammarelli said.
♦ In Nov. 2012, Zammarelli sat at a table inside Lincoln High’s library. Joining him on National Signing Day were classmates and softball standouts Lindsay Mayer and Emily Bouthilette.
Mayer was heading to the University of Virginia while Bouthilette planned to stay close to home and attend Bryant. Following their respective freshman seasons, both young ladies opted to transfer.
Mayer is heading to New York’s Fordham University with the hope that she’s able to pitch a bit more than she did at Virginia. Fordham and Virginia met twice this past spring with Mayer going 5-for-7 and allowing six runs in 6.1 innings between the two encounters. With the Cavaliers, Mayer batted .278 in 51 games (all starts) and went 0-3 with an 8.56 ERA with all but one of her 18 appearances coming as a starting pitcher.
Like Mayer, Bouthillette was a key figure during Lincoln’s back-to-back undefeated seasons. Receiving 24 at-bats in a dozen games for Bryant, Bouthillette now heads to Division III Wheaton College.
♦ Another former area high school standout on the move is Trevor Vasey, a star football and basketball player at St. Raphael. Originally recruited by Elon as a quarterback, Vasey didn’t take a single snap under center last year. Instead, he appeared in seven games at wide receiver where he caught two passes for 15 yards.
With Elon changing head coaches, Vasey opted to move on to Division II Assumption College. Since the 6-foot-6 Cumberland native is transferring down, he is eligible to play right away. He will have two years to play for the Greyhounds.
♦ One of Vasey’s former football teammates at St. Raphael, Pawtucket’s Jean-Daniel Roussel, recently passed along that he plans to honor his fourth and final year of eligibility at Sacred Heart University. A defensive back who last year as a redshirt junior tied the Sacred Heart all-time single-season interceptions record with seven, Roussel graduated this past May with a marketing degree. This year will see him pursue a Masters in Communications.
♦ Congrats and best wishes to Woonsocket High graduate Mike Watters, who takes over the head football coaching reins at Exeter/West Greenwich. Most recently, Watters was an assistant coach at North Smithfield and serving as a color analyst during WOON’s high-school football broadcasts.
♦ All signs point to former Cumberland High pitcher Justin Patrick transferring from the University of South Florida to URI. Patrick spent the last two years with the Bulls where he totaled 15 appearances and one start.
♦ Jared Pedro, a hockey standout and recent graduate of Tolman High, will attend Rhode Island College this fall with the hope of landing a spot with the Anchormen, who compete on a club-level basis.
♦ Per St. Raphael Principal Dan Richard, it appears that Fred Saunders will remain aboard to coach the varsity girls’ basketball team. Saunders had served as SRA’s director of athletics before the local private Catholic high school opted to go in a different direction last month, that of bringing someone aboard who would also serve as a fulltime physical education teacher.
♦ Though Monday, Mount St. Charles 2009 graduate Vaughn Hayward has totaled seven relief appearances for the Utah-based Ogden Raptors, a Rookie League affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Signed as an undrafted free agent following a stellar senior season at Bryant, Hayward has allowed more than two runs in just one of his outings for the Raptors to date. His 6.43 ERA is mainly due to the five runs on six hits he surrendered on July 20.
A right-hander who is listed as 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Hayward has struck out 17 and walked four in 14 professional innings.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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