Fortin ready to get started
NASHUA – The Nashua Silver Knights reported for duty for the first time on Monday, but the visit to Holman Stadium was a special time for one player in particular.
It had been over two years since former Nashua High School North catcher Matt Fortin stepped onto the field at Holman. His last two springs have been with Seton Hall University, and his last two summers have been spent playing for college wooden bat teams in Queens, N.Y., and Virginia.
But this summer it’s different, as Fortin is home.
“This is a big opportunity, I’m excited to be back home this summer,” said Fortin, who will be a junior at Seton Hall this fall. “I think I’ll get a lot of playing time here and I’ll be comfortable playing at home.
“It’ll feel just like high school, playing in my old stadium.”
Playing is the operative word. A three-time all-state catcher for the Titans, Fortin appeared in just five games for the Pirates in 2014 and this season he played in 11 games, making four starts. He only hit .125 but did drive in three runs in one game.
“I knew going in my freshman year there was a senior and two juniors and I wouldn’t get a lot of time,” Fortin said. “And this year there were two seniors who were juniors the previous year and they stepped up big and did really well.”
Fortin got a couple of starts due to injuries but when the regulars returned he was back to his reserve role.
But this year?
“It’s me and there’s a kid below me,” he said. “Next year it’s mine. I’m looking forward to it.”
Two of Fortin’s former teammates, Jake Mellin and Alek Morency, played with the Knights at one time or another in the last four years, and had nothing but good things to say about the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. So Fortin was looking forward to it.
“I’ve been away the last few summers,” he said. “I was looking forward to playing closer to home.”
Fortin looked at possibly playing at Keene with the Swamp Bats of the rival New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL). But one of his former coaches at North, Will Henderson, called him and said that Silver Knights Vice President of Player Personnel, B.J. Neverett, was interested. That’s all Fortin needed to hear.
“I’m real excited to play back here,” Fortin said. “It brings back memories.”
Now he hopes to make some new ones.
Former Boston Red Sox farmhand and Alvirne standout Kyle Jackson is back as the Silver Knights pitching coach, and is looking forward to another summer at Holman.
“I’m excited,” he said. “New players, new pitchers, it should be good.”
Jackson also spent a second straight spring as Nashua South’s junior varsity coach but won’t be with the Panthers when they travel to Keene in the Division I prelims on Thursday. The Silver Knights open that night in Portsmouth vs. the Seacoast Mavericks.
Jackson said he will take what he learned in his pitching coach debut with the Knights last summer and apply it to this season.
“I’m going to definitely make improvements on how I approach the kids,” he said. “Kind of get to know them, what they want to do and what they’re expectations of what they want for the season.”
Silver Knights manager Ted Currle, because of the inclement weather, didn’t make the trip up from Norton, Mass., but is expected to be at Holman on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. workout. Instead, the players met with Neverett, general manager Ronnie Wallace and the training staff in the clubhouse. Afterward, some hitters worked in the batting cage behind Holman while pitchers soft tossed in the outfield…
Neverett said three players will be reporting after the season begins. North Troy (Vt.) High School pitcher Matt Messier will arrive on June 15, while Bishop Hendricken’s Gian Martenelini won’t be available until June 28 because of the length of Hendricken’s season, graduation, and Boston College orientation. Finally, University of Maine shortstop Brett Chappell will be delayed a few days due to a family illness.