By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Worcester – A player with all the tools and the makeup of Shrewsbury native and Assumption College senior Mike Coggeshall is a rare find, according to Worcester Bravehearts manager J.P. Pyne. The 6’3”, 200 lb. Coggeshall swings a hot bat, is more than solid defensively at third base, but also brings intangibles such as leadership and guidance to a clubhouse with many first-year players seeking to make the transition from college baseball.
The Bravehearts is one of 10 teams from various parts of New England that comprise the Future Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL). The team plays 28 home games and 28 away games with Worcester’s Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field being the team’s home venue. Currently, the team draws between two and three thousand fans on any given night.
“One of the things that gets overlooked the most in summer baseball is leadership,” said Pyne. “Having a guy that’s local that knows the lay of the land that’s been here before and is willing to lead has been a huge blessing for us. Mike gets it. He knows what the expectations are from the fans and from this team internally. He does a great job as a very talented player but also in making sure that everyone’s on the same page in the clubhouse. For me as a manager, there’s tremendous value in that.
“This is a different atmosphere and for the young guys this is the first time playing in front of a crowd of people that paid their hard-earned money to watch you play. With that comes responsibility and expectations. Having a guy that knows that like Mike has been very beneficial to this team.”
“Baseball didn’t come easy for me, I had to work at it as everyone does,” Coggeshall admitted of his early days learning the sport. “It’s a tough sport. I just got better year by year and kept rolling with it.
“The mental aspect is definitely the toughest. Sometimes you overcome it by brushing stuff under the rug. You make an error and you move on to the next play. In baseball, you fail more than you succeed so you just have to move on from that.”
Coggeshall moved on to compete for Assumption College and has been the quintessential Greyhound athlete and student, according to baseball manager Mike Rocco. He batted .299 with nine home runs and 40 RBI while anchoring third base with exceptional defense.
“Mike is just an absolute pleasure to coach,” said Rocco. “He’s a competitor who thrives on big situations who plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He’s an extraordinary student-athlete. He’s made a huge impact on our team since he came in as a freshman. He’s great with the younger kids and a totally engaging guy with such an outgoing personality. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
His accomplishments as a Greyhound are plenty. He was named to the Northeast-10 Third Team All-Conference in 2016 as well as the Worcester-Area All-Star team. He launched nine home runs and recorded a team-leading 40 RBIs and led in other offensive and defensive categories. He was named to the 2015 Spring Assumption College Student-Athlete Honor Roll.
But it was summer 2015 when things fell into place for Coggeshall. He was recruited to play for the Bravehearts which took his baseball future to a whole other level. The initial transition was challenging but was soon overcome with the excitement and exposure to a higher brand of baseball.
“I had seen their past championship run so when I was asked to play for them I said ‘absolutely’. Last year with the team was a great first-year experience for me.
“But last year I was tense a little bit in my first year playing here,” he admitted. “There’s big crowds, intense competition and very good hitters. This year I’m much more relaxed making sure I see the ball. I just try to stay within myself. That’s really a big thing.
“The crowds here are incredible. We get over 2.000 fans coming to each game. Everyone does a great job in getting fans here. Everyone in our clubhouse loves playing here. It’s a bunch of kids with a wide range of ages and seeing these crowds helps to motivate us every night.”
Like all his teammates who have advanced to the Futures level, Coggeshall has dreams of what could be if all goes in the right direction. But for now, he stays within himself giving his absolute best each and every time he slips on the Braveheart uniform.
“You never know. I’m going to do the best I can next year in my senior year and hopefully it’s not my final year of baseball. What I have to do is play my heart out and give it all I’ve got. I’ll be doing that and we’ll see what happens down the road.”