Did Time Off Hurt Xavier?

When it was still bitter cold back in March, I watched a city scrimmage between Middletown and Xavier. The Blue Dragons were in rebuilding mode and the Falcons looking to make a run at the state championship.
The black and silver (white?) definitely looked like they had the team to do it and in the regular season they proved it, going 19-1, with only a loss to Shelton on Tax Day. They had been #1 in the New Haven Register poll for most of the season until yesterday.

Maybe the rest hurt the top seed. Xavier beat Hand, 14-5 on May 21 and then the rest of the SCC tournament was cancelled due to weather. Xavier recieved a bye through the first round of the Class LL state tournament and was set to play the winner of West Haven and Staples on May 30. Nine days was the longest the team went between games all season. I’m sure Richard Magner had the team ready to play, but there is nothing like game atmosphere.

Yesterday at Palmer Field in Middletown, Staples defeated the Falcons 5-4 in eight innings in one of the largest upsets in this year’s state tourney.

I will admit, I don’t know much about Staples, but I do know that Xavier was the clear favorite.

Tough finish to a great season, one of the best in over 30 years.

*I will be keeping an eye on the rest of the state tournaments and will continue to give my thoughts the rest of the way.

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Late Night Compliments

Spring break was last week and I kept the tradition alive by not going anywhere, doing a lot of sitting on my couch and watching Sports Center, but I also went into the Middletown Press on Tuesday for a change of scenery.

We had been working on the spring sports capsules, so that what I worked on for a couple of hours, making sure the names were spelled correctly and the season outlook by the coaches were well developed sentences. It was tedious, but had to be done. There really wasn’t much else going on so I left early, but before I walked out the door, I discussed with Joe what was going on Thursday and we decided that I would go to the Middletown High vs. Xavier baseball scrimmage and find a story.

I found my way to Middletown High on Thursday around 3 p.m. and walked over to the baseball field. There weren’t too many people there for a couple of reasons, but the big ones were; it wasn’t a real game and it was cold. I walked around and watched the players warm up for a little while, before introducing myself to the coaches. I should have done it right when I got there, because I’m sure it was awkward for them watching me walk around, but I’ll get better at stuff like that.

Xavier showed up about 20 minutes later, began warming up and then the scrimmage began.

A junior, Malcolm Alleyne, started on the mound for Middletown and after watching the kid warm up, I could tell he was going to be good, but not good enough against the Xavier bats. From the first pitch he threw, the Falcons lineup blasted shot after shot deep to the outfield. Xavier is just bigger and stronger than Middletown.

The scrimmage kept going on, players moved around and so did the umpires. Three came to the game, two worked a couple innings while the other watched and then they would switch spots; each one even took a turn behind the plate. It was nice standing in the sun, but once it went behind the clouds and got later, it got freezing. Just when I thought the game was over, they played another inning. Then when I heard the game was going to be over, the Middletown coach asked the Xavier coach if they could go another half to get some work in. This is dedication.

Play finally ended, the players gathered up their gear and sought warmth as fast as they could. I walked onto the field and talked to Richard Magner, the Xavier coach first for about four minutes and then made my way to the Middletown coach, Jason Serra, after he was done giving his team a talk in right field. Both coaches were very friendly and cool and know baseball very well, I knew I had a good story.

I got to my car, emailed Joe telling him that I could barely move my hands from being out in the cold and I would write the story Friday and that’s what I did.

I sat in my bed, transcribed the quotes and began writing. I knew I had to come up with a good lead because this wasn’t a game story, it was like a short feature type piece mixed with a season preview. I wasn’t going long, but it needed to be informative and tell a story and I did just that. As I finished the story I told my mom that I thought it was pretty good and I was happy with it. I never say that about my writing, so it must have been good…or really bad. I didn’t know, so I just sent it off to Joe and was done with it.

I had to wake up for work at 7:30 a.m. to be there at 9 a.m. on Saturday, but couldn’t sleep. I rolled over, looked at my phone and saw a new email. This is what it said. It was at about 2 a.m., but I didn’t care about work anymore, this was awesome.

That made me feel amazing. It was probably the best compliment I had ever gotten from anyone on my writing and coming from someone I respect and work with and am learning from made it that much better.

I took a screen shot (as you can see) and posted it on Facebook and Instragram. When I woke up I had about 10 InstaLikes and another 15 on Facebook with some comments and these people hadn’t even read the story yet.

The story is running in today’s Middletown Press sports section and the high school baseball season begins Wednesday.

There, but not there

The class S and L championship indoor track meets were held in New Haven this past Thursday and Friday and even though no one from the Middletown Press attended the event, we still tweeted the results almost as soon as they happened.

The results were live on the CIAC sports website and as local kids names showed up at the top of the leader board, I tweeted them for the @MPSportsEditor. This was pretty cool, because track meets drag on and if there is only one story you are covering or a couple of athletes, you can be waiting hours for that story to take shape. I know this from my limited experience running indoor track my freshman year of high school.

Jimmy Zanor was in New Haven for the meet trying to find that story and he got some good stuff, like Louis Tobias of Cromwell won the boys 1600-meter run and Tyler Rubega of East Hampton won the boys pole vault. The girls from East Hampton finished second, fourth and fifth in pole vault which sparked the idea of writing a feature on East Hampton pole vaulting for next week, as a preview to the state open.

So for most of the night I tweeted class S results while working on a “college notebook” for the second time. The NESCAC basketball tournament pairing were announced earlier this week, so since Wesleyan is right down the street and a member of the conference, I had to do a short write-up of those tournaments. Both men’s and women’s basketball teams are seeded sixth and play quarterfinal games Saturday, the men at Middlebury and the women at Williams College.

I wrote up a couple of high school basketball stories and then by the end of the night, Joe finished putting the page together and we were done.

Friday:

I thought I was going to be doing the same thing on Friday, but when I got in, Joe told me I was going to Wesleyan for the Xavier vs. Cheshire swim meet. I got a little nervous, because I had no idea how to write a swimming story, but read a couple of stories that Jim Bransfield had done and got a little more comfortable. I waited for Cathy to return from city hall where she was taking a picking of a police officer being sworn in and then we left for the pool.

There aren’t really many notes or anything to take when at a swim meet, you basically just watch and pay attention and then get all your quotes at the end and that’s what I did. I had no idea who was winning or really what was going on until I got the final score. Xavier won 99-85. This is pretty close when it comes to swimming, if one or two races went differently, the result could have been very different.

When the meet was over and the teams huddled up to do some sort of cheer they always do at the end, I made my way to the scorers table and awaited my copy of the final results. I grabbed an interview with the coach Chris Haines and two seniors who were swimming their final dual meet of their careers, Matthew Lyons and captain Dom Fogarasi. I really had no idea what kind of questions to ask them, so I went with the generic stuff and it was almost 9 p.m. we had to go.

I was writing the story for the web, so there really wasn’t a deadline, but Cathy had to get some pictures in the paper by 10 p.m. I finished my story by about 10:15, which would be good for almost any other paper, but the deadline for the Middletown Press is crazy early and very difficult. Joe looked it over and we made a few AP Style changes and then the story was done. I am happy with the way it came out. I feel like I have a writing style that works for any sport.

This was just another fun week at the Middletown Press…To Be Continued…