By Chris O'Donnell
---- — BYFIELD — Most NCAA Division III baseball players on Cape Cod during the summer are there for a vacation or maybe working a summer job. Richard Fecteau isn’t like most Division III baseball players.
Although his stay with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks was short — two weeks, one game, no at bats — Fecteau got a taste of the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, and nothing would make him happier than to get back. For a college player, the CCBL is the mecca for summer baseball. There were 256 CCBL alumni playing Major League Baseball last year.
“There were kids from Florida State, Tennessee, and then there’s me from Salem State,” joked Fecteau, who was the only Division III player on the team. “But after the first few days of taking BP (batting practice) and ground balls, I felt like I could play with them and play at that level.”
Fecteau, in the midst of his sophomore season, has already committed the summer with the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a stellar league in its own right. He was set to join Wachusett last year until Hyannis called to offer a two-week tryout. The Dirt Dawgs understood. They let him go and welcomed him back when Hyannis opted not to retain him.
Salem State head coach Mike Ward can’t remember exactly when the last Viking was invited to the Cape. “I think it was in the 1990s,” he said. “We wrote to the Cape league last year to get Richard a tryout. He did well and got signed. There are very few Division III players in the Cape league. You have to be an elite Division I player.”
Six games into his season with Wachusett, however, Fecteau’s summer season ended with a torn posterior collateral ligament. He was lucky it was only his PCL.
“I was told about 99 out of 100 people who tear their PCL also tear their ACL,” he said. “It took me a little bit to get back, but I’m 100 percent now.”
At the time of his injury with Wachusett, Fecteau was batting .346 (9 for 26).
Fecteau is back putting up the same numbers that earned him 2013 Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Rookie of the Year honors. After 22 games, he is hitting .362 (slugging .553, on base .396) with a MASCAC-best 30 runs, 34 hits and 11 doubles. He is also among conference leaders in triples (two, second), RBI (16, third) and slugging (fourth).
“Richard is definitely draftable,” said Ward, currently in his second year. “We’ve had some inquiries already. Very few players from New England go on to sign a pro contract, but Richard has the potential. I think he can hit anyone.”
Fecteau wasn’t expecting the impact he had last year, but he couldn’t be happier about it. He enjoyed a terrific career at Triton, where he was a two-time Cape Ann League all-star. But high school is just that. At the college level, teams are made up of high school all-stars.
“I knew I was a decent hitter, but I didn’t know if it would carry on to college because the pitching is better,” Fecteau noted. “I just tried to pick up on the things that the older guys were doing.”
That would be a baseball-specific weight training regimen three days per week during the season and six days in the offseason.
As much as Ward lauds Fecteau’s baseball ability, he is not lost on Fecteau the student and person. Majoring in sport and exercise science, Fecteau has a 3.2 grade point average. “He’s a hard-working, conscientious kid, a class act,” Ward said.
Excellence runs in the Fecteau family. Andrew Fecteau was an all-conference golfer at UMass Lowell from 2011-13 and won a plethora of academic plaudits. He is currently in basic training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.
Ward was well aware of Richard Fecteau by his junior year at Triton. “We saw him play at the Lynn Invitational Tournament,” Ward recalled. “If you’re invited to the Lynn Invitational, it’s a good thing. I had also known his father (Michael) for a while.”
Salem State’s roster isn’t just Massachusetts-heavy. There are 17 players from the North Shore including senior Kyle McElroy and freshman Colton Fontaine of Newburyport. It’s not by chance. Ward likes keeping the area’s best players close to home.
“I know a lot of local and regional coaches,” said Ward, who coached at Salem High School for seven years and spent two years as an assistant/associate head coach before accepting the head post prior to last year. “They know we’re doing the right things at Salem State. It’s a very good option for a local kid.”
Salem State is in a groove. The Vikings took some lumps on their 10-game Florida swing, going 3-7 against heavyweights like No. 18 Marietta, Wooster and Baldwin-Wallace. Since returning to New England, they have won nine of their last 12 games, including a 4-3 triumph over previously ranked Wheaton.
What really has the Vikings believing was Thursday’s 6-4 triumph over No. 5 Southern Maine. Fecteau was the catalyst, going 3 for 4 with a run, a double, six assists and three putouts.
Fecteau downplayed his impact. “It was a great win. Our pitching staff was great.”
He knows this team could be special.
“I think we have as much potential as any team out there,” he said. “We hit the ball very well and out pitching staff is great. I think we can make it to (NCAA Tournament) regionals. I wouldn’t be surprised if we go on from there.”
Bentley’s O’Connor strong against No. 7 SNHU
Ryan O’Connor (Newbury), a senior on the Bentley baseball team, has won his last two outings including a 3-1 triumph over No. 14 Southern New Hampshire University. In the victory, O’Connor struck out nine, allowed seven hits and walked none over seven innings. In his previous appearance, O’Connor fanned seven and allowed five hits and no walks in a complete game 5-0 win over at LIU Post. For the season, O’Connor is 2-2 with a 2.15 ERA and 8.25 strikeouts per nine innings.
Salem State’s Richard Fecteau isn’t the only local thriving at Salem State. Senior Kyle McElroy (Newburyport), a senior, is currently batting .333/.365/.391 for the Vikings. Nineteen of his 21 hits are singles … Freshman Colton Fontaine (Newburyport) has seen action in seven games with two starts … Matt Mottola (Newburyport), a sophomore first baseman at UMass Lowell, has seen action in seven games and is hitting .409/.545/.435 in the River Hawks’ inaugural Division I season. UMass Lowell is 8-8.
Groveland’s Fitzgerald named CCC Player of the Week
Stephanie Fitzgerald (Groveland) was named the Commonwealth Coast Conference Women’s Lacrosse Player of the Week Monday as she compiled eight goals and seven assists in a 3-0 week. She opened with two goals and four assists in a 19-8 win at New England College and followed with two goals and one assist in a 9-8 victory over Roger Williams. She capped the week with four goals and two assists in a 17-7 triumph over Worcester State. The Fighting Scots are 7-1 with a four-match win streak … Junior Kristen Pingree (Georgetown) has 19 goals and four assists this season for the Roger Williams women’s lacrosse team. Pingree scored four goals and assisted on another in an 18-6 win at Wentworth. The Hawks are 3-6.