UMass-Lowell’s Kneeland flirting with .400 at the plate
Rowley’s Kneeland a big hit for Lowell
With the game on the line, University of Massachusetts Lowell baseball coach Ken Harring leaves no doubt who he wants up at the plate.
With no hesitation, he responded “Cam Kneeland.’’
And why not?
Through 29 games, the senior captain was hitting a team-high .400 (50-for-125), with 33 RBIs and 29 runs scored. He has gone hitless in just two games - once against Adelphi, after opening the season with hits in 14 straight games, and once against New Haven, after an 11-game hitting streak. Among his hits: 12 doubles, a triple, and three home runs.
“Most definitely, he’s the one I want up there in a clutch situation,’’ said Harring of the Triton Regional graduate from Rowley. “Right off the top of my head, I know he’s had three or four walk-off hits. You just know you’re going to get a quality at-bat from him. Whether it’s a single or home run or even a strikeout, you know it’s going to be a quality at-bat.’’
This season is evolving into Kneeland’s best as a collegian, and he is coming off two seasons in which he led the River Hawks in hitting (.313 as a sophomore and .328 last year), earning all-Northeast-10 Conference honors both seasons. He led the conference in RBIs (53) last year.
Kneeland is on pace to become the first UMass Lowell player to bat .400 or better since Allen Mottram (.426) in 2002.
Consistency has been key for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound, smooth-swinging Kneeland, who is back at third base after playing shortstop last season.
“Ever since he’s been in the lineup, he has taken the bull by the horns and has been extremely consistent,’’ said Harring. “I personally can’t remember two or three games when he struggled. That’s due to his work ethic. His mentality is never too high or too low. He doesn’t let previous at-bats affect him. He has the perfect hitter’s mentality.
“He’s just a complete ballplayer. If you asked coaches around the league, they’d tell you he’s one of the most feared players they’ll face all season.’’
Stonehill coach Pat Boen said Kneeland is the best all-around player in the NE-10.
“He plays a great third base and last year was solid at shortstop,’’ Boen said. “He runs the bases well and can hit for average and power. He always seems to be the player who comes up with the clutch or timely hit. Lowell has a strong lineup, but Cam is a guy who can carry a team when his bat gets hot.’’
Kneeland was named to the watch list for the 2012 Tino Martinez Award, given to the nation’s top Division 2 player.
“Every coach obviously is partial to their own player,’’ Harring said. “I don’t know the statistics of every Division 2 player, but I do know that in our conference at least, he very well could be the player of the year. One has to remember that he’s putting up these numbers with a wood bat, not aluminum.’’
Kneeland says he approaches every at-bat the same.
“I’m just going up there, staying patient, and looking for a ball to drive to an outfield gap,’’ he said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches. They’re out there every day, helping me stay focused. They talk consistency, and that’s what I strive for.
“As far as hitting in clutch situations, every player should want to be up in that situation, especially if it’s to win the game. I don’t do anything different in those at-bats than I do in others. One thing I do know, though, is that I don’t want to be on the bench at times like that.’’
Kneeland said he’d love the opportunity to play pro ball.
“Whatever happens, happens,’’ he said. “I’ll just keep working hard and hope things go my way.’’
Brown’s Farnham an unsung hero
Brown senior forward Bobby Farnham of North Andover was presented with the 6th annual Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award at the NCAA Division 1 Frozen Four. The award honors the memory of the former Army player and cocaptain who was killed in 2006 in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Farnham, an assistant captain, enjoyed his most productive season at Brown, tying a career high for goals (8) and establishing career highs in assists (13), power play goals (3), and points (21). He has also been heavily involved in projects on and off the Brown campus. He has been part of the “Ambassador to Team Impact,’’ a nonprofit group that connects and cultivates meaningful relationships between athletic teams and children facing life-threatening diseases. He also chaired the senior gift committee.
University of New Hampshire senior Ali Carr of Chelmsford scored 9.825 on the balance beam, 9.8 on the vault, and 9.7 on the uneven bars to lead the Wildcats at the NCAA Gymnastic Regionals last weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. The Wildcats finished sixth with 193.9 points. . . . Salem State junior Alyssa Bryan of Stoneham and sophomore Nicole Wilson of Peabody combined to no-hit Southern Maine, 8-0. Bryan pitched five innings and struck out six, then Wilson picked her up in the sixth and final inning, retiring all three batters she faced. . . . Endicott captain Jack Carroll recently aced the 300-yard, par-4 10th hole at Beverly Golf and Tennis Club. Witnesses included teammates Nick Erichman, Jake Rand, and Ian Teal.
Around and about
Burlington will induct five former athletes, longtime coach Joe LeVasseur, and benefactor Al Perry into its Athletic Hall of Fame Oct. 4 at the Café Escadrille. Honored athletes include George Skelton (class of 1956, football, basketball, and baseball), Donald Clarkson Blair (1968, hockey), Jim Curtin (1978, hockey and baseball), Adam Royds (1997, wrestling), and Karen Alissa (Huebner) Calandrelli (1999, swimming, tennis, and cheering). LeVasseur coached football, wrestling, and boys and girls track in a career spanning 39 years. Perry has been a teacher, department chairman, vice principal, and principal during his 25-year career. Tickets may be purchased at the athletic office (781-270-1867) or at the Town Hall treasurer’s office (781-270-1628).
John Vellante can be reached at JohnPVel@aol.com.