It didn’t take Luke Fernandes long to get on the baseball radar screen, a result you could say of the radar gun.
Playing in a Perfect Game tournament in New Jersey for pro and college scouts, Fernandes clocked 93 on the radar gun, a pretty big deal when you consider he had yet to begin his sophomore year at Marshwood High School. Later that summer, playing at the Lynn Invitational in Lynn, Mass., Fernandes and his fastball caught the eye of a Boston College coach who happened to be at the tournament.
Two days later he visited the campus and talked to head coach Mike Gambino. He had yet to play his sophomore year yet was offered a 3-for-4 scholarship and made a verbal commitment to play for the Eagles. Now a senior at Marshwood, Fernandes expects to report to Chestnut Hill this fall, unless he receives a call from a Major League team looking to take him fairly high in the draft. He’s already filled out surveys for 10 professional teams.
“That will be a decision he has to make,” said Eric Fernandes, Luke’s father and high school coach. “We really believe in Coach Gambino at BC.”
Fernandes, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound, right-hander, experienced arm trouble last year and didn’t pitch because of weakness in his shoulder.
He came back through rehabilitation but then developed some elbow soreness. His dad had him on a 70 pitch count when he faced defending Class A state champion Cheverus a couple of weeks ago, but after a shaky start he settled down and pitched into the seventh inning, finishing with 101 pitches.
Marshwood and Fernandes won the game 6-3 after he fell behind 3-0 early but settled down and pitched hitless ball through the middle innings.
“The first inning I just had the wrong approach,” he said. “I wasn’t spotting fastballs and I wasn’t changing speeds effectively.”
Eric Fernandes said Luke’s best pitch is his slider.
“It can be devastating on a right-hander as well as burying on a lefty’s hands,” Eric Fernandes said.
Fernandes throws a two-seam fastball to create movement on his pitches. He worked with former Red Sox reliever Bob Stanley in a Stratham, N.H. for a few years to develop his repertoire.
“Luke and he gravitated toward each other,” Eric said. “Bob really got him command of that two-seamer.”
Luke plays shortstop, or sometimes first base to save his arm, and is capable of playing college ball as a position player as well as a pitcher. Boston College has agreed to take a look at him in the field as well as on the mound.
“There’s something to be said for going out and playing every day,” said Luke, who admitted he’s a pitcher at heart.
“(It’s) the one-on-one stuff with the hitter and having better stuff than he does,” he said.
Fernandes has also developed a changeup which remains a work in progress.
“The only three well-hit balls off him have been on changeups,” Eric said. “He left it up.”
The Hawks are 7-2 and in first place in the Class A West standings. In addition to Fernandes, they also pitch Jake Verrill, who is headed to West Point next fall to play football and possibly baseball. Troy Pappas, who is headed to Bates College, also pitches while catcher Matthew Bernier made the Under Armor tea that is headed to Florida.
Fernandes hasn’t accepted any offers to visit schools since committing to Boston College. He likes the idea of “just knowing I had a place to go.”
A four-year player on the basketball team, baseball is his first love and his been since he was young kid.
“Baseball for me has been kind of where I can go and leave everything else (behind),” he said. “Winning games and competing.”
A, SORT OF, LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
With an enrollment of just 110 students it’s sometimes difficult for Van Buren High School to fill out spring baseball and softball rosters.
The baseball team played with the minimum nine players in 2005 and 2006 and reached the Eastern Maine Class D final in 2006. They Crusaders didn’t have enough to field a team in 2009. This spring, the seasons of the baseball and softball teams were again in jeopardy.
The softball team, it turned out, didn’t have enough players for a varsity team, while the baseball team had just 11 players.
Boys aren’t allowed to play softball under Maine Prinicpals’ Association rules, but girls can play baseball. And three softball team members — senior Naomi Maldonado, sophomore Kayla Durette and freshman Amanda Sytulek — decided to join the baseball team. Maldonado, in fact, doubled and singled in the team’s opening day 13-3 loss to Wisdom.
“I wanted to play, I was pretty disappointed when they said there wasn’t going to be a softball team,” Maldonado told the Bangor Daily News. “I thought it was a good opportunity. I didn’t have to think long about doing it at all.”
The girls were accepted withouth protest by the boys on the team who prefer a full roster to none at all.
LIMESTONE SOPHOMORE STRIKES OUT 20
Chris Benner, a sophomore pitcher for Limestone Maine School of Science and Mathematics, was behind 3-0 recently against Ashland in the first inning. He had surrendered a double, single and a pair of walks. A visit to the mound from coach Glenn Michaud appeared to change everything. From that point on, Benner struck out 20 batters, didn't allow a hit and issued one walk in his team's 11-3 victory
4-CLASS FOOTBALL ISSUE RETURNS
Two years after tabling a plan to expand Maine high school football from three classes to four, the Maine Princiapls’ Association is reconsidering the issue.
The MPA’s football committee met recently to begin drafting a plan to be presented to the organization’s full membership in April 2013.
There apepars to be less oposition to a four-class plan today than there was two years ago. The committee will consider many of the same proposals from two years ago including having a balance between teams in Eastern and Western Maine. The committee is already in agreement that the new plan will be based on enrollment rather than strength of programs.
Baseball top 10
8. Oxford Hills