Roger Brown's Diamond Notes: Catching on to pitching
Ten months ago, Nelson was hoping he could earn a spot on the roster of a lower-level Division I college baseball team. Now he’s receiving interest from some of the top programs in the country, and could be selected in next month’s Major League Baseball Draft.
Nelson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior at Hopkinton High School, attended a baseball camp at the University of Connecticut last August. He went to the camp as a catcher, his primary position since his freshman season at Hopkinton.
“Everything has totally come out of nowhere,” Nelson said. “My entire intention of going down to UConn was to play baseball on the last weekend of the summer. I was just hoping not to embarrass myself when I pitched (at UConn) the next day.”
“(As a catcher) there were real questions about how good of a hitter he would be,” said an American League scout who spoke under the condition that neither he nor the organization he works for be identified. “Going in that direction, his options were not that great. He’s a good athlete and he’s got arm strength. He’s just learning how to pitch right now.
Nelson, 17, said he will attend prep school at Phillips Andover (Mass.) Academy in the fall, when he will reclassify to the Class of 2015. He will be eligible for next year’s MLB draft as well.
“He always threw the ball back to the pitchers harder than they threw it to him, but I knew his plan was to play in college as a catcher,” Hopkinton coach Dave Chase said. “I guess I had given up on the thought that he was going to pitch because I didn’t want to jeopardize his future as a catcher.
In three starts (16 innings), Nelson is 2-1 with 29 strikeouts. He has allowed seven runs, but only one earned.
Nelson, who catches for Hopkinton High when he doesn’t pitch, hits third in the order and is batting .350 with three doubles and a triple. He has four runs batted in for the Hawks, who are 3-1.
Nelson currently complements his fastball with a slider and a changeup.
“Getting drafted would be exciting, but right now I’m trying to figure out where the best fit for me is in terms of college. I’m in such a good spot right now. I don’t think I have any bad choices.”
TWO of the top softball pitchers in the state will be on the same field today when Timberlane Regional of Plaistow faces Manchester Central at Timberlane High (4 p.m.).
Senior Sarah Lavallee has been Central’s No. 1 pitcher since her freshman season. Sophomore Kate Hoadley has a 5-0 record this season and is one of the main reasons Timberlane won last year’s Division I title.
“The mental part of Kate’s game is very good. Nothing bothers her.”
THE most attractive game on today’s high school baseball menu is Dover (6-0) at Londonderry (6-1). Dover is the only unbeaten team remaining in Division I. Londonderry is alone in second place.
Londonderry coach Brent Demas said Franklin Pierce University-bound pitcher Tom Corey will start on the mound for the Lancers. Corey is 1-0 with a 0.58 ERA, and has 13 strikeouts in 12 innings.
MONDAY was a tough day for hitters from Winnacunnet of Hampton. Josh Gagne tossed a no-hitter to help the Spaulding of Rochester baseball team defeat Winnacunnet 3-0; and Sami West pitched a complete-game and held Winnacunnet to two hits in the Spaulding softball team’s 6-1 triumph. ... Senior Courtney Fisher became the first ConVal of Peterborough player to record at least 600 strikeouts when she struck out 11 in a 12-0 victory over Trinity on April 23. … The Wilton-Lyndeborough softball team is 5-0 in Division IV and has outscored its last three opponents 45-0.