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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dod, Lee enjoy rich local baseball histories

Tom King

Spring has sprung, and while we look for a happy medium between the heat wave of two weeks ago and the recent chill, here are a few tids and bits:

It’s a shame the Souhegan and Alvirne High School baseball programs aren’t in the same division, because a meeting between the two would be historic, considering the tenure of the coaches involved.

Think about the careers of Broncos coach Mike Lee and Sabers coach Bill Dod. As head coaches, they have coached in a combined 1,424 varsity games, with 760 combined wins. Dod, with 474 career victories at four different schools, and Lee – who was Dod’s assistant/sub varsity coach at Bishop Guertin – with 286 wins at Alvirne.

Lee has run the Broncos program for 29 years, with a mark of 286-294 (.493). His teams are always a tough tourney out and usually a tough regular-season matchup. Lee’s teams have two Class L (or Division I, if you will) title game appearances.

Dod, amazingly, has won 200-plus at two different schools – 203 at Bishop Guertin before leaving to go to Milford in the late 1980s. Then, after three seasons there, he started the Souhegan program from scratch and now has 212 wins leading the Sabers.

His mark, including 67 games at Sanborn Regional in Kingston, is 474-370. He has won three titles, two at BG and one at Souhegan.

When Dod was at BG, his games against Lee were like chess matches. It would be great to see those again, but you’d better have time because they would take awhile, for sure. Dod and Lee have always loved the fact baseball is a game without a clock.

And the two of them seem timeless.

Congrats to former Nashua High School North standout Brad Zapenas, who achieved his goal going into spring training to make one of the Chicago Cubs long season Class A teams, this one in Peoria, Ill., the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League. Originally, he thought he was slated for Daytona of the Florida State League, but he ended up with the Chiefs and went 1 for 4 with a run scored in his recent debut.

Zapenas, after being drafted last June, certainly didn’t want to end up with the organization’s short-season A team in Boise again, after having played their last summer.

He’s worked between second base and shortstop, and the deal with his progress will be what he does at the plate, as he tries to elevated his game from the .230-.240 bat malaise it’s been in. Obviously the Cubs like what they’ve seen. …

As the Daniel Webster College men’s volleyball program continues to evolve, it’s getting close to a point where the Eagles and Rivier College (soon to be Rivier University) should meet on the court. Both coaches, Riv’s Craig Kolek and DWC’s Brendan Zamore are certainly open to it. The women’s teams they coach have played each other annually and in fact DWC upset the Raiders last fall, the Eagles’ first win in the rivalry in several years.

Riv added men’s volleyball in the mid to late 1990s. The Eagles program was dormant for 10 years before being resurrected in 2009, and now they have 12 wins this season after three sub-.500 years.

Riv, of course, is a regional power, so there would still be a potential big gap, but it may be closing enough to get the two on the floor in non-conference play.

“We’d like to do it,” Zamore said. “It makes so much sense since we’re so close.”

“I wouldn’t mind it,” Kolek said. “I don’t see why not. When you look at it, it’s an easy ride and certainly makes sense as far as travel and budgeting are concerned. Braden was just starting to build things the last couple of years, so we’ll take a look at it.”

Incidentally, the NCAA has completely taken over Division III men’s volleyball. That means automatic berths for conference champions in the what is now the NCAA tournament, which will all take place in Springfield, Mass., later this month. …

It will be fun to see Richie Hebner back at Holman Stadium this summer. In case you missed it, Hebner was named the new skipper of the North Shore Navigators in Lynn, Mass., which jumped from the New England Collegiate Baseball League to the second-year Futures Collegiate Baseball League that the Nashua Silver Knights compete in as its inaugural champion.

Hebner, the former Pittsburgh Pirates hitting standout and Red Sox coach, is as old school as they get. We never got to know him well enough a few years ago when he joined the Nashua Pride coaching staff as a hitting coach only to take a sudden offer just before the Pride season started to manage in the Baltimore Orioles system in Single A Frederick (2008-09). His last coaching gig was as the hitting coach for the Orioles Triple A affiliate in Norfolk, Va.

“I was out of baseball last season,” said Hebner, a native of Norwood, Mass., “and it’s a nice feeling to be back on the field and to be managing close to home.”

He’ll make his return to Holman when the Navigators visit for the first time on Tuesday, July 2.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King onTwitter (@Telegraph_TomK).