By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Worcester – The hot summer sun isn’t the only generator of intense heat found in this region as the calendar vaults from June into July.
The bat of Worcester Bravehearts infielder John Friday is packing plenty of sizzle these days while helping his team retain its first-place status in the West Division. The Southborough native who played three years at Algonquin Regional High School before transferring to Worcester Academy for two years and graduating in 2014 is batting .377, third best on the team, and has belted two homeruns, two triples and two doubles in 13 games.
The Bravehearts are 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.
“John’s a very good player,” said Bravehearts manager J.P. Pyne. “When I think about the way John plays it’s very simple. He plays the game very hard. He hits the ball hard. He sees it and he hits it. He doesn’t try to do too much. He stays within himself. Whether it’s hitting or defense, he trusts his abilities and he goes out and plays. I think there’s a lot of guys that wish they could do that, to slow the game down and just play like you’re in your backyard when you’re 10 years old.
“He squares the ball up better than anyone we have here. He made an impact on us from the moment he arrived. He’s been an excellent player for us. He’s definitely made his presence felt here.”
The 6’0”, 190 lb. Friday, who currently resides with family in Marlborough, recently concluded his sophomore season at Franklin Pierce University where he batted .349. in helping his team obtain a berth in the College World Series. Last summer was his first baseball out-of-the-area experience when he joined the Delray Beach Lightning in the South Florida Collegiate League.
“John’s just an all-around solid player. He’s very versatile and can play just about every position,” said Franklin-Pierce manager Jayson King. “Offensively, he’s very aggressive at the plate. John is just an awesome player that is selfless and confident.
“Everybody likes John. He’s relaxed and can be really funny to loosen things up. There’s not much to not like about him.”
When the opportunity to join the Bravehearts arose this past winter, Friday was all over the idea being fully aware of the team’s past success and the high caliber of baseball played.
“I’ve known about the Bravehearts and knew they were a great team,” he said. “I really wanted to play with them and asked my coach and told him I wanted to get on this team. Playing for this team is incredible. You get all these little kids asking for your autograph. It makes you feel like a big-league baseball player. It’s awesome playing here.”
Friday’s dad, Tim, is a former defenseman for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, so that sports participation in the family at high levels is nothing new. His outlook on the future is refreshing and has been adopted by friends and teammates at both the high school and college level.
“One step at a time,” Friday explains. “You just have to keep playing and hope you get a shot but it’s important to keep having fun and play the game.”