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Brentwood's Carson Cross unleashes a pitch against Louisville during their May 22 game in the Big East tournament. (COURTESY)

Brentwood's Carson Cross, the Athlete of the Month, making major strides

Carson Cross is beginning to see the fruits of his labor.

Earlier this month, the University of Connecticut redshirt sophomore pitcher from Brentwood was selected in the 24th round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

This week, Cross was honored by the New Hampshire Union Leader as its Athlete of the Month for May after compiling a 3-1 record with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in five postseason outings.

The righthander received 25 points from the nine-member Union Leader Board of Judges, nudging Bri Keenan of Greenland, a softball outfielder for Tufts University, and Sydney Strout, a high school softball pitcher from Gilford. Both received 24 points from the judges.

Cross, who has the option of returning to UConn next season, posted a 9-4 record with a 2.44 ERA. He fanned 86 batters and walked 24 in 110 2/3 innings. Those numbers were good enough to land him on the All-Big East second team.

In May, in the opening round of the Big East tournament, the 6-for-5 Cross pitched 7 2/3 innings in a 3-1 win over Rutgers. He scattered eight hits and fanned four. He surrendered five earned runs in an 8-0 loss to Louisville, but bounced back to earn the decision in a 7-3 win at George Mason. In that game he struck out seven in six innings.

His best performance of the month was a no-decision in a 3-2 win over Louisville in the Big East final. Cross pitched into the 10th inning, allowing seven hits and two runs with three strikeouts and no walks.

He capped his season in the NCAA Division I tournament by earning the win in a 5-2 victory at Virginia Tech, allowing one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings.

Cross graduated from Exeter High and is the son of Jeff Cross, who was the first former New Hampshire high school player to play in the National Basketball Association. Jeff Cross played in 21 games for the Los Angeles Clippers. His father played for Portsmouth High and the University of Maine.

A sophomore left fielder, Keenan batted .400 (14-for-35) with 10 runs batted in and 10 scored in 11 May games. In one stretch, Keenan had two hits in six of eight games, with nine RBIs.

Strout, a senior left-handed pitcher who had a 10-0 record in May with seven strikeouts, set the Gilford softball program's record for career strikeouts. She struck out 12 during a 4-1 victory over Franklin, giving her 621 strikeouts. Strout had a 10-0 record in May, with seven shutouts. She tossed a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts in a 3-0 first round playoff win against Prospect Mountain of Alton.

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