Billerica's Chris and Kyle Murphy have baseball folks around here scratching their heads trying to remember the last time two local brothers and teammates were both Division 1 bound.
"It's pretty rare," said Billerica coach Joe Higgins.
So rare, the Murphys might be the first.
Chris, a senior right-hander headed to the University of Maine, recently shared Merrimack Valley Conference Division 2 Player of the Year honors with Dracut's Dan Zabbo.
Heading into Billerica's first-round state tournament game on Thursday at home against Everett, Chris is 6-0 with a 1.34 ERA (52.1 ip, 20 h, 84 ks) and is batting .309 with two homers and a team-leading 17 RBI.
Higgins said a Maine coach clocked Chris Murphy's fastball at 90-92 mph earlier this season. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder plays first base when not pitching.
Chris' pitching record is still perfect because brother Kyle, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior right-hander already committed to Northeastern University, came on to finish Billerica's regular-season finale at Malden Catholic with two strikeouts, stranding the tying run at third and winning run at first.
Kyle (1-3, 3.79) was bothered by back and groin injuries earlier this season. In 20.1 innings over six relief appearances and two starts, Kyle has struck out 20 and allowed 16 hits.
But last week he was up to 89 mph on the LeLacheur Park radar gun while striking out seven Lowell batters and allowing just three singles in a 1-0 loss. Three nights later, Kyle saved that one for brother Chris, who had struck out 12 batters over 7.1 innings.
"He has rounded into shape at the end of the season," said Higgins about Kyle Murphy.
As a hitter, Kyle, a center fielder, has been on top of his game all season, batting .397 with one homer, six doubles and 14 RBI.
"The Billerica kid is only a junior. I can't talk about him," said Northeastern's new head coach Mike Glavine when recently asked about Kyle Murphy. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking about a recruit until the player signs a letter of intent. Glavine, who knows a little something about great baseball brothers from Billerica, seemed to be smiling, though.
Savard a nice catch
Tyngsboro High junior catcher Andy Savard recently committed to UMass Lowell, a great catch for the River Hawks, coming off their 20-22 debut season in Division 1.
Boston College, Holy Cross, St. John's and Bryant also showed interest in Savard, who took a liking to UMass Lowell coach Ken Harring.
"It's a great fit," said Savard. "It's close to home. I wanted my parents to see me play. It seems a perfect fit for what I want to accomplish in my college career. I love the coaches. I love everything about it."
Savard is also excited about "following in the footsteps" of his Tyngsboro coach, Ken Connerty, a member of UMass Lowell's Athletic Hall of Fame.
However, Connerty's relationship with his alma mater is complicated. As a UMass Lowell coach he was instrumental in building the program into a regional Division 2 power. Connerty for 19 seasons was legendary coach Jim Stone's right-hand man, but was not rehired in 2004 after one season as Stone's successor, during which the River Hawks finished 22-21 and won the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament.
The parting was bitter.
"I love coach Connerty. He's one of my role models," said Savard. "He told me how the college recruiting process works, but he left everything up to me. He's brought me to where I am now."
"It's a nice fit for him," said Connerty. "He has my blessing."
Savard is batting .400 with two homers, heading into Tyngsboro's state-tournament opener on Thursday at Sutton. On Tuesday, Savard was voted the MVP of the Midland-Wachusett League C Division. His older brother Charlie was the league MVP last year.
"He's an even better catcher than he is a hitter," said Connerty. "And he's a great (right-handed) hitter."
Around the diamond
Lowell High senior Tyler Schermerhorn has arguably been the best local high school baseball player since the start of last season. He was The Sun's co-Player of the Year last year and MVC D1 Player of the Year this year. He's headed to Endicott College but may not play baseball there.
"We're trying to convince him," said Lowell coach Dan Graham. "I really think he can make it as a pitcher at that level."
Schermerhorn, also an outstanding golfer and student, has provided Graham no indication he plans to do anything at Endicott but study.
Wilmington High sophomore phenom Jackson Gillis is not the only lefty racking up strikeouts this spring (95 ks in 50.1 innings). Tyngsboro's 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior southpaw Sean Engel in 59 innings has struck out 105 batters. He is headed to New Hampton School to prep. Connerty says Engel has D1 college potential...
Russell Olive, a 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher and first baseman who played on Chelmsford High's varsity as a sophomore and junior before transferring to Cushing Academy, also has committed to UMass Lowell. ..
Congratulations to Dave MacLaughlan, who on Monday reached 400 career victories as Greater Lowell Tech's head baseball coach.
Typical Coach Mac, he made no mention of this considerable milestone while calling in his team's result to The Sun. "If you're around long enough, you're bound to win a few games," said MacLaughlan, in his 31st season as head coach at Greater Lowell. His Gryphons host Austin Prep on Thursday in a Division 3 North game.
Garrity no soft touch
Chelmsford High softball third baseman Shannon Garrity's batting average dropped last week from .620 to .581, which Bruce Rich believes is still the highest regular-season mark for a Lion in his 23 seasons as coach.
"She's now hitting only .581 (43-for-74)," joked Rich. "She's still hitting the ball as hard as ever. She's just had some bad luck."
Garrity, a junior line-drive machine, has 15 doubles, two triples, one home run and 25 RBI. She is also a smart baserunner and fearless third baseman with a great voice. Garrity sings with the Chelmsford High orchestra and chorus. She sang the national anthem before Chelmsford's Senior Night game against Dracut last week.
Rich's assessment of Garrity's singing performance echoes his assessment of her as a player.
"Outstanding," he said.
On track for big things
More than a dozen local athletes go into this weekend's divisional track meets as the top seeds in their respective events.
Div. 1 East: Ashley Craig, Westford, pole vault (11-6); Emileigh Glode, Acton-Boxboro, 400 hurdles (1:05.03); P.J. Garmon, Billerica, 800 (1:54.79), Tim Breen, Westford, pole vault (13-6).
Div. 2 East: Thomas Ratcliffe, Concord-Carlisle, mile (4:17.82).
Div. 3 East: Chelsee Porcaro, Tewksbury, discus (128-0); Stephanie McFadries, Burlington, javelin (126-0); Paul Hogan, Burlington, mile (4:17.44) and two-mile (9:18.04); Eli Jennings, Wilmington, discus (162-2).
Div. 1 Central: Chris Skelly, N. Middlesex, mile (4:24.16); Michael Niemi, N. Middlesex, 110 hurdles (14.70); Neil Maskalenko, N. Middlesex, high jump (6-4).
Div. 2 Central: Kerrie Keohane, Tyngsboro, mile (5:12.73); Gray Hunter, Littleton, 400 hurdles (53:04).
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