UMass baseball has produced a surprising number of elite pitchers.
Jeff Reardon set major league baseball's all-time saves record. Mike Flanagan won the Cy Young. Former football recruit Ron Villone pitched in the bigs for 15 years. Matt Torra was a first-round pick in 2005.
So junior Leif Sorenson of Bradford should be proud to set the school record for career saves. Even if it is just 12.
"It was definitely a goal," said Sorenson, who has done it in just two years, as he transferred from Vermont, after the Catamounts dropped baseball. "It's not a lot so I'm trying to smash it."
Mitchell Eilenberg (2006-09) and Scott Ratliff (2002-04) shared the old mark with 10.
Sorenson has that attitude to continue to pile up the saves.
"I'm available every game, pretty much," said the righthanded sidearmer, who in one stretch pitched in three straight games. "Every time it's close, I know I'm probably getting the call. I enjoy it. It makes you stay in the game."
Minuteman coach Mike Stone looks at Sorenson as a beloved security blanket.
"We are not afraid to use him whenever in any game," Stone told The Daily Collegian. "We (need) to have him, otherwise we are not comfortable going into the game. ... We just feel good about him whenever he comes on the mound."
Sorenson, a three-year standout at Haverhill High after attending Central Catholic as a freshman, has put up all-star caliber numbers this spring.
Although the Minutemen have struggled (17-28-1 heading into yesterday's season finale at St. Bonaventure), Sorenson has been a major bright spot.
He leads the Minutemen in ERA (3.08), saves (6), appearances (21), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (30-8 in 38.0 innings).
Surprisingly given those impressive stats — not to mention a .266 opponent batting average compared to .328 for the rest of the staff — he has a 2-5 record this spring.
"I attribute some of that to bad luck," said Sorenson, who hasn't given up a homer this year. "My one start (6 runs, 4 earned in 4.2 innings vs. Michigan) was on me. The others were bad luck or an error here or there."
Sorenson, who nearly ended up at UMass Lowell, has shown great improvement every year.
As a freshman at UVM he was 0-4 with a 6.15 ERA and one save and as a sophomore with the Minutemen he was 2-1 with five saves and a 3.94 ERA.
"It's a natural progression," explained the 6-foot, 195-pound Sorenson, whose grandfather played professional baseball in Canada.
"My stuff has gotten a little better. You get better with experience. I have three pitches I can throw for strikes: a fastball with a lot of sink, a slider and a change-up. In the fall I was touching 87 mph."
The former Haverhill hockey player is also doing well in the classroom.
The economics major has earned a 3.3 GPA each of the last two semesters and has been nominated for academic all-conference honors.
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Sophomore Dennis Torres of Lawrence has been a pleasant surprise. He didn't see game action last year and never even made the team at Central Catholic.
But this spring the 6-2, 200-pounder has made 11 appearances (8 starts) with a 2-4 record, and 29 strikeouts in 41.0 innings.
"He definitely throws the ball well," praised Sorenson.
As for making the team as an unknown walk-on, Sorenson said, "You don't see that often, especially at this level. Most are highly recruited. But he just threw the hell out of it (at the tryouts)."
Danielle Diodati, a two-year captain, has season-bests of 12.87 in the 100, 27.42 in the 200 and 49.08 in the 4x100 for Wagner. During her career, the senior has been on four school-record setting relay teams.
The Central Catholic graduate from Haverhill will be working for the National Futures Association in Manhattan.
Senior defender/long stick midfielder Billy Eagan of North Andover helped Mount Ida to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. The criminal justice major started 11 of 17 games and contributed 34 ground balls, 8 caused turnovers and one goal.
Junior midfielder Sarah Galligan of West Newbury (46-10—56), sophomore attack Heather Sullivan of Andover (35-9—44) and sophomore attack Kayla Green of Londonderry (35-13—48) all played key roles for Stonehill lacrosse, which finished 15-4. ... Freshman Ben Ayres of Methuen won the Rookie Award for the Hobart golf team. He was third on the Statesmen with an 83.6 average and had the team's season low round with a 76.
Senior Kelsey Petty of Salem won Plymouth State's Panther Award for volleyball. It goes to "an individual in their program who best represents Plymouth State on the field, in the classroom and in the community." ... Junior Alex Skinner of Haverhill won at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles as Boston College blanked UConn 7-0.
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