John Casey, one of the most respected and successful college baseball coaches in New England, is about to embark on his 25th season at his alma mater, Tufts University.
His eldest son, Brian, an all-New England shortstop and closer for the Jumbos last season, has joined Casey an assistant coach. His second son, Kevin, a junior, will slide over from third base to shortstop when Tufts opens the season at Lynchburg (Va.) College this month. Last season, Kevin batted .346 with 30 RBIs and was a third-team all-region pick.
"I tend to be a little harder on my sons, and they've responded with their performance on the field," said Casey, a longtime Milford resident who guided the Division 3 program to a 25-12 mark a year ago, improving his career record to 431-283-3.
"I never wanted anyone to think that things were handed to them. And I've got two other sons, Brendan, a junior at Milford High, and Chris, who is in eighth grade, who are ballplayers. They've been around it their whole lives and they love the sport."
The Milford connection at Tufts does not end with Casey's sons.
Another former Scarlet Hawk, senior Jason Protano, returns as an anchor in the starting rotation, where he was 4-3 with a 4.15 earned-run average last spring. And Milford's Bob Kenny, considered one of the best catchers ever to don a Jumbos uniform, is back as an assistant coach.
Casey's roster also includes Jody Goldberg, a sophomore reliever from Westborough; Mike Stefaniak, a junior pitcher from Needham; Ari David, a junior infielder from Lincoln; and freshman pitcher Alex Ross of Weston. Goldberg was 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA last year, while Stefaniak had a 1-1 record.
"She can't wait to get to practice and she does everything on the ice for us, including being our quarterback on the power play," said MIT head coach Jim O'Meara, whose team played at top-seeded Manhattanville in the ECAC quarterfinals yesterday. "She's a great skater and a great three-sport athlete, and when a talented player like Steph is one of your hardest-working players, that has a positive effect on your team."
The 5-foot-11-inch Brenman was second in team scoring with 5 goals, including four on the power play, and 4 assists. Brenman, whose teammates include senior forward Cristina Stefanescu of Needham and freshman forward Connie Lu of Sudbury, is also the starting goalie on the women's soccer team that was 12-7 last fall, and a midfielder on the college's lacrosse team.
Brenman is a graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, where she was an Eastern Independent League All-Star in soccer, softball, and ice hockey, a league hockey MVP, and a two-time Globe Prep Hockey All-Scholastic.
Cohen earns respect on court
Simmons College senior Nikki Cohen (below), a Wellesley High graduate, has earned the respect of basketball coach Tony Price.
"Nikki is one of the most dedicated student-athletes to enter Simmons during my eight seasons here," said Price. "I don't think everybody appreciates the beauty of her game because her numbers don't jump out at you. The physical punishment she takes night in and night out is incredible and she never complains.
"I respect how far she's come and the commitment she's made to improve at the college level."
A 6-4 center, Cohen scored in double figures seven times this season, including 11 points in a recent game against Rivier when Simmons clinched a Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament berth. No. 8 seed Simmons lost its first-round game at conference champ Emmanuel, 78-46, Tuesday night.
Cohen, who averaged 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game with a team-high 38 blocked shots this winter, had a 14-point game against Emmanuel in January, and had 15 points and 11 rebounds in her next game against Suffolk.
"Katelyn works real hard in front of the net to come up with 'dirt' goals, and she's a stalwart in the defensive end, especially killing penalties and blocking shots," said head coach Greg Stone.
Marvin Pave can be called at 508-820-4223 or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.