Medway’s Mailman hits stride at Wentworth
Wentworth Institute of Technology sophomore catcher Jake Mailman was apparently born to be a hitter.
“He was 4 years old when he saw his first pitch,’’ said Mailman’s father, David, recalling the day he took his son into the front yard and put a Wiffle-ball bat in his hands. “The first time he swung, he hit a line drive off my arm that gave me a welt.”
A two-sport athlete at Medway High (class of 2011), Mailman is still putting a hurt on opposing pitchers.
Through Wentworth’s first 10 games this season, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound lefthanded swinger was on an incredible streak that included a .571 batting average (20-for-35), a .610 on-base percentage, and .771 slugging percentage. The team’s cleanup hitter, he had 5 doubles and a triple, and his 17 RBIs were just three shy of his total for last year.
Mailman had also stolen two bases in as many attempts, walked five times, and struck out just once. After going 3 for 7 in Sunday’s doubleheader against Franklin & Marshall in Auburndale, Fla., his batting average actually dropped.
In Winter Haven the day before, he exploded for eight hits in nine at-bats in a two-game sweep of Colby-Sawyer. On Monday, he was named a co-Player of the Week in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
“Honestly, it’s kind of a shocker. I didn’t realize my average was that high,’’ said the former Tri-Valley League All-Star, who was coached in Little League by his dad, a varsity football and hockey player at Dover-Sherborn High.
“My goal this year was to improve my approach at the plate, move runners into scoring position, and drive in a run here and there. A few balls have dropped in for me, and the best part is that I’ve helped the team get off to a good start.’’
Wentworth head coach Steve Studley said Mailman has worked hard on opening his stance and hitting to all fields.
“Jake lives in the weight room and he’s the strongest player on our team. His arm strength is phenomenal and his speed is deceptive,’’ said Studley, whose squad started the week at 8-2.
The Wentworth roster also includes hot-hitting junior center fielder Paul Dassau (Franklin High), freshman pitcher Paul Vergara (Needham High), and freshman bullpen catcher Matt Rucho (Assabet Valley Regional Tech).
“Paul has been everything we’d hoped for and more,” said Studley. “He pitches off his fastball, and has developed a slider that has become a real good swing-and-miss pitch for him.”
He said Dassau, who was hitting .345 with 3 doubles and 9 RBIs, “really gets after it in the outfield, and is as good defensively as anyone we’ve had there.’’
Dassau and Mailman were teammates on the American Legion squad in Franklin, and when Mailman was thinking about college, he asked Dassau to put a good word in for him at Wentworth.
“Coach came to watch me play against Westwood High my senior year, and I believe I went 2 for 3 with a homer and double, so it was great timing,’’ said Mailman, who has also played for the New England Roughnecks AAU team, based at Babson College in Wellesley.
He was converted to catcher his junior year at Medway High.
“I was fortunate that a couple of friends who had previously played the position gave me a few pointers,’’ said Mailman, who also played offensive tackle on the Medway High football team.
Mailman said he welcomed the challenge of the college game his freshman season, and said the transition was made easier by his friendship with Dassau. “A team is like family to me,’’ he said, “My dad always told me to leave it all out there on the field and be the best player I could be. But I’m still a little astonished at what’s happened so far.’’
Here and there
Former Brandeis University pitcher Nelson Figueroa, a nonroster spring training invitee of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was the starting and winning pitcher when Puerto Rico defeated the United States, 4-3, to advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico then made Tuesday’s championship game with a 4-3 win over Japan. . . . Former Wellesley High star Abby Bunting is having a breakout sophomore season for Brown University women’s lacrosse team. She registered three goals and four assists in a 12-8 win over Yale, sharing Offensive Player of the Week honors in the Ivy League, and had 15 goals and an assist after six games, helping Brown to a 5-1 mark (1-1 Ivy). She had six goals as a freshman. On April 20, Brown will play at the University of Pennsylvania, where Bunting’s sister, Caroline, a lacrosse All-American at Wellesley High, is a senior attack. . . . Needham’s Bob Whalen, in his 24th season as head baseball coach at Dartmouth College, had the Big Green off to its best start (6-0) in 98 years. A three-sport athlete at Needham High, where he was baseball captain, Whalen played infield at the University of Maine. His father, the late Chick Whalen, was scouting director for the Pittsburgh Pirates.