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The Laconia Muskrats Are Officially Built And Paving Winning Ways

 

 

In life, our biggest skill and motivation for existing on a planet that sometimes seems senseless is the ability to dream. It’s not only about dreaming, it’s about the execution and sacrifices that come along with the pursuit of attainment and adventure. How many of us have allowed our mind to fantasize about owning a major league baseball team? Currently there are two groups bidding about $500 million to buy the Texas Rangers, so it does not take too much time for many of us to realize that this particular type of fantasy will be collected along with the one about being astronauts. But, in 2010 in Laconia New Hampshire, a family fielded their baseball ambitions and began seeding their reality into the soil of a community of only 17,000 people. Some people I know would probably mock such an endeavor at first thought, but then again some people have no imagination or feel for the living cells in their own being. The commitment to create and carve out your own piece of physical idealism does come at a price in time, finance, and terrifying risk. “I have been involved since day 1,” says Noah Crane, the General Manager and owner of the Laconia Muskrats. “My family purchased an existing New England Collegiate Baseball League franchise in October of 2009.” Everyone knows a business requires constant expenditures; those who think that once you’re in, all bleeding of finances is over are sadly mistaken.

The Crane family invested $200,000 in what they considered to be important to outfit a respectable baseball team. “We added 1500 bleacher seats, a press box, updated the sound system, expanded dugouts, and pushed the outfield fences back,” Noah Crane proudly describes. “It’s a beautiful setting for baseball and the facility is top notch.” Robbie Mills Field is named after a local boy who was murdered and robbed of his bicycle in 1998, and the Crane’s simply took a horrific human tragedy and renovated it with the other side of the soul. Once you’re touched with the baseball experience, it’s almost impossible to erase it. Growing up, many of us have experience baseball in a way that made us wish to remain a part of it forever. What were those moments for Noah? “From my playing days it was playing at the Beanpot Tournament at Fenway Park,” said Noah Crane remembering his past. “From my coaching days it was making it to the NJCAA World Series in 2003.” With baseball in the blood, you make relationships along the way that can latter become incredible assets. So is the case with Noah Crane as he describes the man he chose to be his teams head coach, Matt Williams. “Matt played for me in 2003 and we have remained close since,” Noah proclaims. “He is a great pitching coach and has produced a number of talented collegiate and professional pitchers.” With much credit to Matt Williams, the Muskrats featured a couple of solid pitchers this summer.



One of them is Tyler Joyner (East Carolina University), who as a Muskrat in 2010 led the league with 61 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. Splitting time between a staring role and that of a reliever, Joyner posted a misleading record of 2-5 with an ERA of 2.05. He pitched a hitless inning in the All-Star game, and went for 6 solid innings in the playoffs giving up 2 runs on 2 hits despite taking the recorded loss. Joyner is only a freshman and Noah had plenty of praise for 5’11/185lb right hander. “ Tyler has an upper 80’s fastball and a very tight slider. His slider is his best pitch and the one he got most strikeouts on,” but as the eternal coach and advising counselor, Noah continued. “ Tyler needs to work on his fastball command and develop a consistent changeup. Another solid pitcher on the Muskrat squad is Nick Krisman. This past spring he was a junior at Judson University, but as a Muskrat, his 6’0/215lb frame was a constant source of closure. Krisman led his team with 4 saves in 19 appearances He collected a total of 34.1 innings and posted a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 1.57. Although Kriman is not a power strikeout pitcher, he only registered 26 this summer; it’s his miniscule 8 walks that paint the truer picture. “Nick succeeds through hard work, command, and deception,” Noah explains. He throws 3 pitches for strikes, and has a funky motion which is distracting to the hitters.” On the offensive side, the Muskrats had some very talented bats, and players that can move around on the field. One of those was 6’3’220lb Patt Epps who despite playing first base at Central Connecticut State last spring, gave up the position and focused on playing right field. “Our other first baseman (Casey Kalenksoky) was exactly that, a first baseman,” Noah tells us. “Pat, because of his athleticism was able to also play outfield.” Epps finished the season hitting .285, with 4 home runs, and 18 RBI’s. In further describing Epps style of play, Noah was very clear. “His best tool is his size. He has a strong arm but needs to take better routes in the outfield. He’s much better suited for first base, and has very good power to the pull side.”

 

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The Muskrats official first baseman was Casey Kalenkosky. Three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Epps, Kalenkosky led the team with 34 RBI’s, 11 doubles, and 22 walks, all of which tells us why he also led the team with a .392 on base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage. A sophomore this past spring at Cisco Community College, Kalenkosky receives a great compliment from his GM/Owner. “Casey has been invaluable,” says Noah. “We feel whenever he is up with runners on he will drive them in. He hits bad pitching as well as good pitching and has power to all fields.” The best part of watching these collegiate summer teams work hard has to be the education of young catchers.

The Muskrats have a kid named Derek Trent. Trent led the team with 5 homeruns this summer and as a hitter the coaches see nothing wrong with his swing. “Derek has a short line drive stroke and he keeps his weight back well,” Noah observes. “He can hit to all fields.” On the defensive side, like with many catchers learning the craft, the degree of difficulty can get quite hefty. “His offense is ahead of his defense right now,” Noah voices his concern. “He does have a quick release and very good throwing mechanics. But, he needs to improve his concentration and soften his hands.” Trent, who was a junior at East Tennessee State this past spring, and was a Johnny Bench Award finalist, hit .266 and drove in 21 runs for the Muskrats this summer. All in all, the Muskrats finished in 4 th place and lost in the playoffs to a tough Newport Gulls club by the score of 3-0. “Making the playoffs in year one was a big step for this franchise,” the proud Noah exclaims. “It was a great reward for our fans and a harbinger of things to come.” In hoping for the future, Noah is both optimistic and weary. “Next year will be bigger and better. We hope to not suffer as many injuries as we did this summer.”

 

 

By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer

 

 


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