Medway Nine Aiming For Some Even-keel Success
Medway baseball coach Mike Coppinger always finds time for a teaching moment
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
For the last three years, Medway High’s baseball program has been on a roller-coaster ride — some ups and definitely some downs.
Start with 2019. The squad finished 12-6 in the regular season, qualified for the tourney and advanced all the way to the State final where it lost to Taconic, 4-1. Then came 2020, and with seven of nine starters returning, another shot at the playoff final seemed realistic. The covid-19 pandemic, however, ended that dream when state officials called off all spring sports.
Last year, Medway opened its 2021 season losing nine in a row. But, the Mustangs won five of their last seven, finishing 5-11. An open tourney was offered and coach Mike Coppinger and his players decided to opt in. The Mustangs caught fire and defeated East Bridgewater, Apponoquet and Fairhaven before bowing to Middleboro in the sectional final.
Medway will begin its 2022 campaign hosting Dover-Sherborn on April 8 and Coppinger is hoping this season will be more of an even-keel ride.
“We definitely feel like the last three years have been up and down,’’ Coppinger said. “We’ve been a historically steady team over time. We’ve been to the playoffs four times in six years and we’ve had three winning seasons in six years. I expect that our players will be a driven, motivated group and I’m optimistic because of the way they jelled and peaked after starting 0-9 last year.’’
Medway, which has six starters returning, has some strengths that could be very telling. “We’ve got experience, our baseball IQ is good and our speed and quickness are okay,’’ said Coppinger who’s starting his eighth year as head coach. “We’ve got players who can hit for power and our pitching is capable. But, we need to improve our infield defense, build some depth and lower our strikeout rate.’’
Coppinger’s goals this year are to improve daily, for the players to reach their potential, qualify for the tournament and contend for the Tri Valley Small Division title. “Our goals are realistic because we were a very different team last year after that 0-9 start,’’ he emphasized. “The kids overcame adversity and showed they were resilient.’’
Medway will likely rely on a style that will blend small ball with a power approach. “Our bats will produce some offense,’’ Coppinger noted. “We could be executing a suicide squeeze one inning, then hit a home run or a triple the next.’’
Two seniors who’ll play key roles are Ryan Abrams, a right-handed pitcher who can also play first or third base, and Jake Garvin, a second baseman/outfielder.
“Ryan pitched well in the sectional last year,’’ Coppinger said. “His fastball and off-speed pitches make his effective in our rotation. His accuracy and control are good, he hits for power and he’s solid at third. Jake is a team-first guy who’s scrappy. He’s not polished but he gets the job done. We hope he’ll give us some strong at-bats.’’
Luke Frauton, a left-handed pitcher who also plays centerfield, heads a group of four juniors who’ll give the Mustangs versatility.
“Luke throws off-speed pitches but he’s been clocked at 83 mph,’’ Coppinger said. “His control is very good. A strong competitor, he started at quarterback and also plays ice hockey. An excellent defensive outfielder, he’s got good range and runs like a deer. On offense, he’s got gap-to-gap power.’’
Sean Anderson is also a left-handed pitcher who can compete at first base or in the outfield. “Sean’s about 6-4, he’s athletic, has good range in the outfield and has power,’’ Coppinger said. “His best pitches are a fastball, curve and change-up. He showed lots of command as the regular season was winding down. He relies more on finesse than power.’’
Two other juniors — left-handed pitcher/outfielder Jack Reynolds and catcher Matt Childs — are dependable, scrappy and athletic.
“Jack was out best pitcher at times last year,’’ Coppinger said. “Throwing a fastball, curve and change-up, his control is fine and he rarely walks anyone. He’s got good range in the outfield and he’s always grinding as a hitter. Matt is a man among boys. He’s big and strong, super athletic and hits for power. His arm is strong and he’s an above-average hitter. If necessary, he could play either the outfield or the infield.’’
Sophomore Caden Reisman played shortstop down the stretch last year and Coppinger was pleased with his effort. “He made some big plays as a freshman,’’ Coppinger said. “He’s got a high baseball IQ, he’s instinctive and he’s also aggressive. A versatile athlete, he could play the outfield.’’
James Owens, a transfer from Texas, could be a major addition. Coppinger views him as a potential designated-hitter or a corner infielder. “James respects the game and it looks like he swings with power,’’ Coppinger said. “He played a 50-game schedule in Texas. We hope he’ll provide some depth and that his lengthy schedule in Texas will give us some added experience.’’
Medway’s freshman class looks strong and Coppinger likes the players’ serious approach to baseball. “Several of them could break through and help us in a variety of positions,’’ he said.
The 35-year-old Coppinger, who was a two-time TVL all-star pitcher at Medway, emphasizes that his competitive philosophy is all about his players working hard, reaching their potential and having fun. “If those things occur, then winning follows,’’ he said. “It’s about getting the kids ready for the next level.’’
A native of Medway, Coppinger also uses baseball to teach valuable life lessons. “Our players learned how to overcome adversity last year when they excelled after going winless in nine straight games,’’ he offered. “They learned what resilience is all about. Our sport also helps kids set goals and be strong leaders and good teammates.’’
Coppinger is humbled that his 2019 squad that played in the state final owns the deepest run in the program’s history.
“I played for Medway and I’m proud how far we’ve come as a program,’’ he noted.
Getting to the state final this season would no doubt be very rewarding, especially after three years of roller-coaster rides