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Don't let the Div. III label fool you: These guys are good

Don’t let the Div. III label fool you: These guys are good

By TRISTAN HOBBES
CCBL INTERN

     Labels can be difficult to shake. Being a Division I player means you are talented and can perform at a high level. But a Div. III player may not be seen in the same light. Last Saturday, however, Div. III athletes received a chance to display their skills to the Cape Cod Baseball League’s general managers and managers.

     The Frank Finn Invitational Tryout at Wareham’s Spillane Field allowed these often-overlooked players the opportunity to earn a stint ---- short or long ---- on the Cape this summer. While their Div. I counterparts are battling it out in the NCAA Tournament, these Div. III fill-ins will be playing a crucial role in many of league early-season performances.

     “There is always the potential for a diamond in the rough,” Cotuit assistant coach Kevin Kime said. 

     Kime is a Div. III guy at heart, coaching at Mount Aloysius (Penn.) of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC). “This gives them an opportunity to showcase themselves and if they have a good day they can get a temporary contract,” he said.

     The chance to play in the CCBL may seem like a common thought for most Div. I guys, but a stay in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) or the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL) is more realistic for the Div. III player. With so many great players in Top 25 programs around the country, it’s hard to find an opening for a guy from Elms College.

     “This is a great honor to be here,” Elms pitcher Zach LeBarron said. “It’s a great experience. I got a shot. Not many kids get a chance, at least not where I am from.”

     This year, Wesleyan’s Brett Yarusi, Babson’s Sean Cleary and UMass-Boston’s Matt Young will all have a chance to play at the next level, if only for a short while.

     “I could be here for a day. I could be here for three weeks. I could be here for a whole summer. I have no idea,” Yarusi said. “I came up here with a glove, a pair of spikes, one pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I need to go buy some clothes. I don’t really know what I am getting myself into.”

     To these Div. III players, the stigma that they’re competing at a lower level of baseball doesn’t sit well. Cleary was signed to a temporary contract by Orleans, while Yarusi, DiRocco and Young will play for Wareham.

     “When we play we don’t think of it as Div. III, it’s just as competitive,” he said. “It is a little sweeter (to sign) being a Div. III kid.”

     While their dreams of playing with the big boys may be fleeting, these Div. III players will forever remember the opportunity they received.