Sunday, May 10
There's a real Berkshire County connection on the diamond at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. It all starts at the top.

Head coach Jeff Puleri is a Lee native, a former pitcher at UMass-Amherst and completed his seventh season at MCLA by winning his second Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference coach-of-the-year award.

Puleri led the Trailblazers to a 20-15 record, their best season since 2002.

"It's certainly very humbling," Puleri said of his award. "It's always a surprise. It means a lot to be looked on that way by your peers.

"It's a sign of having good players in your program and good people."

There were seven Berkshire County baseball players on Puleri's team this year. He said they are more than just a group of players.

"They bring talent to the table," he said. "They're good, hard-nosed kids. They had a big hand in what we did."

First among them is sophomore third baseman Paul Procopio. The Pittsfield resident and Taconic graduate is a second-team All-MASCAC selection. He led MCLA with a .365 batting average, and also led the team in doubles (12). He had two home runs and 24 runs batted in.

"Paul had a rough go of it as a freshman," said Puleri of his third baseman, who arrived at MCLA as an All-Eagle shortstop selection. "He really worked on (his game). He elevated his game and had a monster year."

Third base, Puleri said, was a more natural position for Procopio, who was comfortable early on.

Freshman Ricky Massey of Pittsfield and St. Joseph's, had a good first season, batting .318 in 25 games. He drove in 14 runs, and was 0-1 in five games on the mound. Another freshman from St. Joe's, Brenden Wyand of Pittsfield, was 3-0 with a 2.65 earned-run average. He appeared in five games and started two.

The rest of the Crusader crew in North Adams are Tim Burns and Joe Harrington. Burns, a junior from Pittsfield hit .245 with 11 RBI, while sophomore Harrington from Pittsfield batted .241 with 13 RBI.

Pat Negrini of Great Barrington and Monument Mountain battled shoulder problems in his senior season, as the tri-captain hit .150.

The team's success with local prospects this year, Puleri said, can only bode well for the future.

"I would say yes. Some of our contacts have gotten a lot better," he said. "The success at MCLA has allowed us to branch out. They're looking at us and giving us more of a fair shake."

  • It's been a good baseball year for Berkshire County players in the conference as two were named first-team All-MASCAC.

    Johno Hinkell, a sophomore catcher from Worcester State, hit .350 for the 29-14 Lancers. The North Adams native played 39 games, started 37 of them. He had three home runs and 13 RBI, and was 11 of 16 in stolen bases.

    The other first-team selection was Westfield's Jeff Fields. The junior from Pittsfield played second base for the Owls and hit .339. He scored 39 runs, walked 26 times and had a .477 on-base percentage. Fields was also 3-3 in eight pitching performances, seven of them starts.

  • The MASCAC softball All-Conference team was spiced up with several Berkshire County athletes, including rookie of the year Maddie Tomich.

    The freshman from Alford and Mount Everett was Westfield State's No. 2 pitcher and finished up with a 5-4 record and a 1.55 ERA. She struck out 72 batters in 631 3 innings of play and opposing batters hit .211 against her.

    Jackie Mason of Florida earned her third-straight MASCAC first-team nod. The senior centerfielder hit .465 and led the conference with a .693 slugging percentage and a .526 on-base percentage.

    Mason set Westfield State career records in games played (131), at-bats (449), runs scored (133), hits (157), triples (18) and walks (52).

    Hadley Ameen, a freshman pitcher at MCLA, earned second-team honors. The North Adams resident was 5-15 with a 4.09 ERA for the Trailblazers. She struck out 70 and pitched 1231 3 innings.

    Rachel Desautels, a senior catcher from Readsboro, Vt., didn't make the MASCAC All-Star team, but she finsihed her career with a .400 batting average, four home runs and 28 RBI.

    Jaclyn Candelet, a sophomore transfer from Springfield College, hit .257 for MCLA. The former Taconic infielder had 30 starts.

    Amanda Borsotti, a sophomore outfielder from Lee started 30 games and played in 31. She hit .153.

  • It's only been a couple of weeks, but there's a bit of a backlog of information for our local collegians. Please have some patience.

    If there's someone we should know about, drop a note via e-mail to hherman@berkshireeagle.com.