EASTHAM — The Nauset High baseball team’s first game this season was on May 12, nearly two years since it last took the field in June 2019.
“The kids are thrilled because it’s a chance to play,” said Head Coach Kevin Curtin, “but they also know they’re pretty good.”
Most imagined the team would need to shake off some rust early in the season. Baseball is, after all, a sport of repetition. Players need to practice their throwing and batting motions against real opponents to improve.
The team spent the long wait preparing for this moment. Senior captains Ethan Keeney, Kurt Thomas, and Richie Corres organized team practices throughout the off season and kept in touch with everyone to make sure they’d be ready when baseball came back.
So how did Nauset fare after all that time without organized games?
“We came out of the gate flying,” Keeney said. Nauset is off to a 5-0 start (at press time; the next game was scheduled for Wednesday, May 26), having racked up 40 runs through those five games.
“They’re all great leaders,” Curtin said of the seniors. “These are the kids that were organizing captains’ practices and Zoom calls. They saw the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“The three of us combined were getting people back,” said Thomas. He is Nauset’s number-one pitcher on the mound. “Some kids were on the edge and not sure whether to play.”
Those efforts to organize paid off.
“We took every opportunity to get back on the field,” Keeney said.
Nauset defeated Barnstable, a formidable opponent in the Cape and Islands League, 12-9 in the second game of the season.
“We were riding high after that Barnstable game,” said Thomas. A little too high, maybe, as the Warriors found themselves losing 8-5 in the fourth inning of their next game, against St. John Paul II.
But the team remained patient.
“This is a resilient group of guys,” Keeney said. “We don’t give up.”
A late rally helped Nauset get back on top, 10-9, in the seventh inning and close out the win. Corres and Keeney combined for five hits, with Keeney contributing a single, double, and triple.
Thomas pitched a complete game in the team’s most recent win, 6-2, over Sandwich on May 21.
The senior captains lead by example, and all three are committed to play college ball. Shortstop Keeney will be at Roger Williams University; Corres, a catcher, will play for Suffolk University; and Thomas will pitch for Central Connecticut State University.
The seniors all come from Harwich but chose Nauset for middle school and high school.
“Academics and baseball, honestly,” is how Corres explained his choice. Most of the team members played together at both schools. Corres said some even started together in Little League.
“We’re all pretty close,” Keeney said. That type of chemistry doesn’t always happen at this level. It’s an important part of the team’s success and organization.
Halfway through the season, the team has its sights set on winning the Cape and Islands League. The Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association has approved a postseason tournament for spring sports, so Nauset baseball will have an opportunity to compete against teams from off Cape.
“We want to do extremely well in that,” Curtin said. “When that ruling came through, I got tweeted at a lot by my seniors.”