Published: 8/5/2022 7:35:54 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 7:32:47 PM
WESTFIELD — Jack Power’s most important summer baseball lesson has nothing to do with bats or gloves. The Northampton grad struggled with periods of failure at the plate during his freshman season at Long Island University this spring.
Being around more experienced players with the Westfield Starfires in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League taught him those trials are temporary.
“You get a lot of at-bats, you get a lot of opportunities, you get a lot of pitches. A lot can happen in those nine innings, but you’re going to wake up and do it again the next day,” Power said. “You always make me through the end of that tunnel, no matter how dark it seems.”
Power gleamed most of the summer. He was named an all-star after hitting .267 with a homer and six RBIs.
“Catching’s always a glove-first position, and Jack does a great job handling our pitchers. When he came in, we knew his clove was pretty solid. He’s surprised us a little bit with the bat,” Starfires coach Kyle Dembrowski said. “He forced his way into the lineup at different positions.”
Power saw time at first base and second base, as well. But he made his biggest impact behind the plate managing Westfield’s pitching staff.
“You come in and no catcher knows how you throw your game or what you want to throw in certain counts,” Starfires pitcher Shayne Audet said. “He caught me the last two weeks of the regular season, and we haven’t had to shake much. You can tell when a catcher is confident in you. He was calling down signs in counts where you can tell he’s confident in that pitch.”
He didn’t have much time to develop that rapport with the pitchers, either. Power’s college season at LIU ended June 4 with an NCAA Regional loss to Wake Forest. The Sharks set their Division I program record with 37 victories and claimed the Northeast Conference title. Their regional trip ended 0-2 with losses to Maryland and the Demon Deacons. Power returned home to Northampton for one day off of golf and sleeping in before joining the Starfires for practice.
“It was kind of a quick turnaround. I don’t think it was anything to adjust to, getting back into playing every day was a little tough,” Power said. “Adjusting to that and my workload was the only change.”
He gets to sleep in his own bed every night. Power moved home with his parents in Northampton and largely chose the Starfires because they would be able to watch him play.
“That’s been a game changer, being able to come home and be with my parents and be close with my family and friends it means a lot to have them see me play,” Power said. “They didn’t get to see me play at school this year. I cherish them being there.”
They’ve watched a potentially historic season. Westfield has the inside track to clinch its first postseason berth. The team was founded in 2019. The Vermont Lake Monsters already sewed up the regular season championship and the No. 1 seed, so they would be waiting in the semifinals. No. 2 New Britain and No. 3 Nashua are also locked into their spots.
“The Futures League was really good this year. Really good competition throughout. Any team could beat any other team on a given day,” Power said. “We had a lot of guys that played at big time schools and came and performed. The competition I played at school, it really helped having that in my back pocket.”
Kyle Grabowski can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.