North Easton's Matt Hart dominates Worcester State's baseball
Then dig a little bit deeper, and the essence of Matt Hart, a senior leadoff hitter extraordinaire for the Worcester State College baseball team, truly emerges.
The smooth-swinging left-handed hitter from North Easton is the igniter who fuels the Lancer attack, reaching base nearly 50 percent of the time. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound graduate of Oliver Ames is an on-base machine: 41 times this season he has reached base leading off an inning, including 21 times leading off a game, with five home runs.
"An unreal year, one for the ages," said Worcester State coach Dirk Baker, who believes Hart deserves the opportunity to showcase his vast skills in pro ball.
In his 14 years in the Lancer dugout, Baker has coached five previous MASCAC Players of the Year. Hart, who powered Worcester to a 13-1 conference mark, the conference championship game, and a 29-14 mark through Sunday, is his sixth.
And he takes a back seat to no one.
"A six-tool player: defense, batting, power, base running, arm, and closer," lauded Baker.
Add clutch too. In Sunday's MASCAC elimination game against Westfield State, Hart cracked a two-out home run in the ninth inning, as the Lancers rallied for an 8-5 victory. Westfield pulled out a 4-3 win in the championship game later that day.
In Saturday's semifinal against Bridgewater State, Hart belted a home run, estimated at 500 feet, onto Lake Avenue in Worcester as the Lancers charged back from a 7-0 deficit for a 9-8 win.
In 2007, Hart was an all-region performer at Massasoit Community College in Brockton before transferring to Worcester State. After closing out the regular season against Suffolk on Tuesday, the Lancers will play an ECAC New England Division 3 semifinal on Saturday in Worcester.
Westwood High graduate Jackie Criss, a senior at Roger Williams University, was honored as the TCCC's Defensive Player of the Year. From her midfield position, Criss helped spearhead a defense that ranks second in all of NCAA Division 3 with 6.51 goals allowed per game, as of the most recent national statistics update. Criss led her team with 25 caused turnovers in conference play and 34 in all regular-season games played. She also led the Hawks with 32 ground balls during the regular-season. Roger Williams (15-2) lost in the conference final to Endicott, 12-4, and was awaiting a possible NCAA tournament at-large berth.
Xaverian Brothers grad Brendan Grant of Walpole, a freshman attack on the Bentley men's lacrosse team, earned a spot on the Northeast-10 All-Rookie Team. Grant has had one of the most productive offensive seasons for a freshman in the conference this season. He's tied for third on the team in goals (11), and is second in both assists (11) and points (22). Bentley finished 9-4 after falling in the NE-10 semifinals.
Craig Larson can be reached at email@example.com.