WOONSOCKET — For his birthday on May 2, Everett Misto received what could be deemed the perfect gift. It was a hitting tee that was set up in the backyard and has kept keep him plenty busy.
“I’ve been swinging every day for a couple hours,” said Misto, who has a college baseball career to eagerly look forward to after his senior season at Mount St. Charles was nixed due to COVID-19.
It wasn’t just about missing out on the Mounties’ quest to earn a second straight Division II title or exiting his interscholastic career without achieving a coveted milestone (100-plus hits). For Misto, a silent spring proved to cut even deeper.
“It was less about being able to defend as much as it was about wanting to be out there and share the field … finishing out with those boys who helped mold me into the person I am today,” said Misto.
What made the bottom line even tougher is that Misto didn’t have the chance to work out with his Mountie baseball teammates. The same week that pitchers and catchers conducted workouts, Misto was busy practicing with the MSC hockey team in anticipation of facing off against La Salle Academy in a state title series that was ultimately cancelled.
His hockey duties occupy a great deal of time and energy during the winter months, yet Misto still managed to get in some cuts a few times per week. Little by little, he ramps up with an eye towards shifting his focus to his defense in the outfield once its deemed okay to practice outdoors.
Alas, Misto never had the chance to let his glovework catch up with a proven track record when it comes to swinging a potent bat.
“Baseball is my love. Missing out on that and not competing in the hockey championship was tough,” he said.
What the coronavirus can’t touch are the countless memories and heart-stopping moments that Misto and the Mounties made en route to emerging as the last team left standing in 2019. The run to the D-II baseball crown proved not to be for the faint of heart as Mount engaged in its fair share of white-knuckle affairs. Three times, MSC answered the bell after trailing. Twice, head coach Paul Jacques saw his crew snap a tie score and not look back.
Misto was right in the thick of the drama as he played the role of hero on two occasions. Mount’s memorable playoff run would have been stopped dead in its tracks had he not come through with a walkoff home run against first-round opponent Narragansett. In Game 1 of the finals against Barrington, Misto lined a double that gave Mount a 3-2 win that required nine innings.
“We lost count of how many times we had to come back,” said Misto with a laugh, “but it helped bring us closer together. We couldn’t afford to let up, but that’s what made supporting one another even sweeter.
“All the guys who were on that team, we pretty much talk everyday about one of the moments we had,” added Misto. “It’s awesome to think back on what a great run it was and what a great group we had.”
What about the clutch gene that Misto had a penchant for displaying?
“It was nothing more than going up there and doing my job. The guys right behind me in the dugout, they were there right with me during every pitch of those at-bats,” he said. “Different guys came up at different points.”
Misto leaves Mount as one of the most decorated players in the school’s baseball history. In his career, he started 55 out of a possible 56 games while batting .467 with a .510 on-base percentage. Over a three-year span, he collected 79 hits, drove in 38 runs, and committed just two errors.
Tabbed the MVP of the 2019 D-II finals, Misto was also renowned for his play in center field. In the two games against Barrington, he recorded 11 putouts. He made it a mission not to let anything get past him.
“Part of [taking pride in one’s defense] probably has to do with being a defenseman in hockey,” he said. “I don’t take being out there for granted. I love being able to run flyballs down and take away hits from guys.”
It was after Mount’s win in the third and deciding game against last year’s semifinal-round opponent (Tolman) when Misto officially learned that he was on the radar of Wheaton College head coach Eric Podbelski. The Lyons routinely put out a product that ranks up there as one of the best among New England participants at the Division III level.
“They had open arms and said they wanted me there. That helped me make my decision,” said Misto, who received the 2019-20 Mount Senior Award for Outstanding Male Athlete. “I’m definitely excited for college. Hopefully the fall semester isn’t impacted in any way.”
Last summer, Misto suited up for the Navigant Post 85 American Legion Senior Division baseball team. Navigant chose not to participate in the R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League that’s a direct spinoff of Legion ball and is tentatively scheduled to begin on July 6. The decision left someone in Misto’s position in a bit of a bind.
“It’s a tough situation for sure, but I’m definitely looking to practice with a team here or there,” said Misto. “If not, I’m going to be doing whatever I can to stay in shape and keep swinging.”
Misto continues to seek swing advice from former St. Raphael catcher John Robbins, who works out of Lincoln-based KR Baseball Academy.
“In no small part, [Robbins has] made a big-time impact on my swing,” said Misto, tabbed by MaxPreps as R.I.’s best player heading into the 2020 season that never had the chance to get off the ground.
Right now, Mount has tentative plans to hold an in-person graduation ceremony sometime in early August. Misto has his fingers crossed that nothing knocks those best-laid plans off the rails.
“I’ve been able to see some of my close friends since the restrictions loosened up, but obviously our class has not been able to be together in total. It also hurts that I haven’t been able to see some of the great teachers I’ve had over the years … teachers who have had a great impact on me as far as what I want to do with my life,” said Misto, who plans to be on a pre-law track at Wheaton. “It will be exciting if we’re able to once again come together as one school community.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03