WHEN Exeter’s Cody Morissette began his stint with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League in June, being selected to play in the All-Star Game was far from a given.
After excelling as a freshman at Boston College, where he hit .320 and led the Eagles with 41 RBIs, Morissette received the type of wake-up call he wasn’t expecting before summer started.
“I started off the summer really struggling down here,” he said. “I kind of got punched in the face to start and got knocked down. To come back and have a really good three-week stretch and be able to be in the All-Star Game is really special to me. It’s definitely a big learning experience and a huge honor to take part in a game with all these great players.”
Factors both on and off the field contributed to Morissette’s slow start, with the mandatory switch from metal to wooden bats being among the most challenging. Unlike the NCAA, which allows the usage of metal bats, the CCBL is strictly a wooden bat league.
Players such as Morissette, who have been using metal almost exclusively throughout their careers, sometimes have difficulty replicating their previous success right away. The common misconception is that metal bats simply allow players to hit the ball harder and longer, and while that’s true to an extent, Morissette insists there’s much more that goes into it than that.
“With a metal bat you can get away with little things in your swing where if you catch the ball off the inside of the bat you (still) get a single,” he said. “With a wood bat you have to be close to perfect to hit the ball right and get a hit. I just had to kind of simplify my swing with the wood bat to try to get the barrel on the ball and letting the pitcher do the work.”
Making it more difficult is the fact that he’s facing mostly elite pitching. The CCBL features top-tier talent all over the diamond and Morissette says the difference between it and college is that he’s competing against the best of the best. There are fewer weak spots in teams’ starting rotations and bullpens, meaning hitters have to earn what they get in every at-bat.
“You’re facing every single guy’s best stuff,” he said. “Every single school’s best pitcher or best player. It’s just adjusting to that. Once I got used to that and started having fun, I kind of turned my season around.”
Through Friday, Morissette owned a .256 batting average and was tied for second on the Braves with 11 RBIs. He’s also continued to play solid defense, going error free in 26 games after posting a .949 fielding percentage at BC last year.
It’s been easier to perform now that Morissette is settled on the Cape. Being that far away from home was a new experience for him, but everything is starting to feel more comfortable.
“I’m living with a host family and I talked to them on the phone one time before I moved in,” he said. “I was definitely a little nervous going into it because I’ve always lived at home my entire life. My family’s always been around me. For me, being on my own this summer with a new family, it was definitely a big adjustment period, but they’re really nice people and have done a lot for me.”
With 12 games remaining on the schedule, Morissette is hoping to finish the summer strong. He’s learned so much during his time with Bourne and wants to continue building good habits.
“I’m just trying to keep playing baseball and playing hard every day,” he said. “I’m not really worried about the stats or anything. I just want to keep playing good baseball and have fun. The guys here that I got to meet and hang out with every day and watch them play, you take your game to a whole new level just by watching and picking their brains. It’s been awesome.”
The Fisher Cats experienced a bit of a power surge when they returned from the All-Star break last week. After homering in two straight games prior to the recess, the Fishers went deep in their first five games when they reconvened, running their homer streak to seven straight.
New Hampshire posted a 5-2 record over that stretch (July 6-15), which was highlighted by a 2-0 win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday. With the game scoreless headed into the bottom of the eighth inning, Forrest Wall hit what ended up being a game-winning two-run shot in the frame. It was the third straight game Wall homered in, giving him eight for the season.
Kevin Smith also played a big role in the streak, hitting four home runs over three games (July 12-14). His two home-run effort against the Hartford Yard Goats was key in the Fishers’ 4-2 win last Friday (July 12). Smith’s 12 home runs lead New Hampshire through Friday.
With nine games remaining on their schedule, the Keene Swamp Bats sat tied for first place in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division with a 20-13 record through Friday.
The Swamp Bats haven’t finished first in their division since 2012 but have made the playoffs in 18 of the last 21 seasons, losing 2-0 to the Sanford Mainers in the first round last year.
Stratham’s Kyle Ball, a junior at Steston University, has been the team’s most consistent hitter this summer, logging a .320 batting average with 18 RBIs. He’s also swiped 13 bases.
David Matthews, a senior out of Central Connecticut State University, leads the team with seven home runs and is tied for third in the category in all of the NECBL.
There’s a tight race to the top going on in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
Though the Nashua Silver Knights were in sixth place through Friday with a 20-21 record, the team is only four games back of the first-place North Shore Navigators.
Of course, six of the seven teams qualify for the playoffs, but the Silver Knights will surely aim to finish as high as they can in the standings to earn the best seed possible for the postseason.
Nashua has gotten solid production up and down the roster and recently sent three players to the All Star Game on July 16. Bedford’s Patrick Harrington highlighted the group.
NH Baseball appears in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Contact Tim MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org.