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Globe West Sports Notebook

Fuller starts well for Mets farm club

Former Marlborough High star Jim Fuller is throwing heat in Single A. Former Marlborough High star Jim Fuller is throwing heat in Single A.
(Savannah Sand Gnats)
By Marvin Pave
Globe Correspondent / May 6, 2010

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Lefty hurler Jim Fuller of Marlborough is off to a great start with the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Class A South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets.

Promoted after two summers with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the short-season New York-Penn League, Fuller was 3-1 in five starts this year with a 1.87 earned-run average, eighth-best in the South Atlantic. The former Marlborough High star had 30 strikeouts and only six walks while allowing 27 hits in 33.2 innings and limiting opponents to a .221 batting average. His only loss came in a 1-0 game.

“It’s still early in the season and there’s a long way to go, and while I’m not 100 percent satisfied, I’m feeling confident,’’ Fuller, drafted by the Mets in the 21st round of the 2008 entry draft after one season at Southern Connecticut State, reported from Georgia. “It’s definitely more laid back down here than in Brooklyn and a lot warmer, but that keeps my arm loose.

“I’ve been working mainly on my curveball and holding,’’ added Fuller, 22, “and I think I’ve improved in those areas. It’s important because the opposition has a little more pop in their bats than in the New York-Penn League.’’

More consistency in his delivery and mechanics, and an 87- to 90-mile-per-hour fastball with great movement have been Fuller’s strong suit, according to Savannah’s pitching coach, Marc Valdes.

Along with his fastball, a two-seamer that kisses both sides of the plate, Valdes said, Fuller “has developed a great backdoor breaking ball to right-handed hitters and an effective changeup.

“Jim feeds off the success of our other pitchers; it’s an incentive for him and we’re very pleased with his progress.’’

Shortly after making his pro debut with the Cyclones in 2008, Fuller felt fatigue in his pitching arm and finished the season as a reliever.

He had hoped for a promotion to Savannah last year, but was reassigned to Brooklyn, where as a member of the starting rotation he was named a league midseason all-star.

A pitcher ever since his Marlborough Little League days, Fuller helped lead Marlborough High to four Midland Wachusett League championships, and one berth in the state finals before graduating in 2005. He had 27 career wins and 353 career strikeouts in high school.

Following stints at Southern New Hampshire University and Western Oklahoma State, Fuller transferred to Southern Connecticut but had to sit out the 2007 season. The following spring, he went 9-3 with a 1.39 ERA for the Owls as a sophomore, posting a 59-inning streak without allowing an earned run, and led the nation in strikeouts to earn Division 2 All-America honors.

Concord’s Atkins works into Tufts role
Jamie Atkins, a Tufts University senior from Concord, scored his first three-goal hat trick when the Jumbos defeated Williams College, 13-9, on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference men’s lacrosse tournament.

Atkins (27 career goals), a two-year starter at midfield and a graduate of the Middlesex School in his hometown, has eight goals and five assists going into this weekend’s NESCAC tournament semis and final at Tufts. He had a goal and an assist last Friday when Tufts defeated Bowdoin, 14-13, in overtime in the regular season finale.

“Jamie is an unbelievably tough competitor who has battled through injury and has been a solid contributor for four years,’’ said head coach Michael Daly, whose team is 14-1 overall, a program record for victories.

“His blue-collar work ethic and dedication to Tufts lacrosse is what defines our program. We have always had a great relationship with the Middlesex program with players like Mike O’Brien, Tim Flanagan, and Alex Burnes, and next year we will have Nate Marchand joining our program, which we’re very excited about,’’ Daly said. O’Brien and Marchand are also Concord residents.

Atkins was a two-time All-Independent School League pick, and a team captain and an All-New England selection for lacrosse in 2006, his senior season, when he received Middlesex’s Ruth S. Kondon Bowl as the team’s MVP.

He also played football and hockey at the Middlesex School.

Applause for coach Miller, player Poulin
Wheaton College men’s tennis coach Lynn Miller of Franklin and junior doubles player Gregory Poulin of Boxborough have been honored for their efforts this spring by the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, Miller as Coach of the Year and Poulin as a member of the All-Conference team.

The only head coach for the men’s team since its launch 21 years ago, Miller guided the Lyons to the conference tournament championship for the fifth time. Poulin and partner James Little were 10-7 at second doubles (4-1 in the conference) and were victorious in 10 of their last 12 regular-season matches.

“Earning Coach of the Year from my NEWMAC peers was the icing on the cake,’’ said Miller, “and having Greg back in the lineup this year was helpful in reaching the success we achieved after he was out of commission for a good part of last spring with an injury. He’s improved immensely as a doubles player since his freshman year.’’

In her 30th year at the college in Norton, Miller also earned Coach of the Year honors last fall after guiding the women’s tennis team to its first conference tournament title.

Marvin Pave can be reached at 508-820-4223 or marvin.pave@ rcn.com.