By BRIAN JENNINGS
St. Paul Catholic High School pitcher Connor Crean was surrounded by his family, teammates, and coaches at the Bristol school on Tuesday, Nov. 24 when he signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his baseball career at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a Division II school that sits right on the town line between Manchester and Hooksett, N.H.
“It’s a small D-II school that had the smaller classes, which I needed to help me focus more,” said Crean. “The facility was nice, but the baseball team is great as well. Good coaches, too.”
Crean said that he plans to study sports management and wants a career in sports, particularly baseball, if he doesn’t get to play professionally.
Crean will play for the Penmen under SNHU baseball coach Scott Loiseau who recently returned to the program on June 1. Loiseau coached the program from 2009-2014, but left for the University of Oklahoma as an assistant for the 2015 season.
Crean said that his final decision came down to Central Connecticut State University, Franklin Pierce University, Southern Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, St. John’s University, and the State University of New York at Albany.
St. Paul Catholic baseball coach Pat Holden said that Crean made a phenomenal choice to play for SNHU.
“I think it speaks volumes to the St. Paul Community, and to Connor as a player,” said Holden. “Obviously, the program and school is very proud of him, but as Mr. DuPont said earlier, every student athlete is faced with choices. And Connor’s made a lot of the right ones to put him in the chair that he’s in today.”
Although Crean is excited to start his baseball career with the Penmen, he still has some business to finish back home at St. Paul.
The Falcons were 20-6 last season, finishing as the runners-up in the NVL tournament in 2015. They also made it to the quarterfinals of the Class S State Tournament as a No.5-seed before falling short to No.4-seed Morgan (16-4) of Clinton, 5-3. But Crean has high expectations coming into his senior season.
“I’m hoping to have 10 starts and go 10-0,” said Crean. “I hope to play center field, as well, when I’m not pitching.”
Last season as a junior, Crean played in 20 of the Falcons’ 26 games, taking the mound on nine starts and going 7-1 with a .875 winning percentage.
“On the mound, he’s a hard-throwing righty,” said Holden. “He’s very competitive. He’s going to give you his best stuff outing to outing. Essentially, he’s a power pitcher. It’s going to be his best fastball against the hitter’s best swing. We haven’t found many hitters that can turn him around. He can go deep into the game and pitch a lot of innings. He’s very athletic and the ball comes out of his hand very well. That’s what sets him apart from the rest of the field.”
Crean said that Coach Holden has taught him more than baseball throughout his high school career at St. Paul’s.
“It’s been personal, like how to become a man, how to react when someone messes up, and how help someone bounce back after a tough loss,” said Crean. “It’s more about family than baseball.”
Crean first got a glimpse of the mound as a Falcon in his sophomore year, making two appearances and going 4.2 innings. He carried a 3.00 ERA with four hits, two earned runs, and nine strikeouts, but has since grown.
As a junior, Crean has allowed just 22 hits and 19 runs over 41 innings, leading the Falcons with 51 strikeouts. Out of the 22 hits he has surrendered, only five of them were doubles when talking about extra-base hits. He has not allowed any triples or homeruns. Opponents have struggled against Crean, batting an anemic .153 against him.
Crean doesn’t just pitch. He can bat too. At the plate, Crean has a total of 16 hits, 12 runs scored, seven RBI’s, three doubles, and a triple. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, he holds a batting average of .216 (74 at bats). As a sophomore, he batted .243.
Crean’s only loss of the 2015 season came from a 9-8 loss to Woodland Regional on April 24.
The righty was perfect in the month of May, going 3-0 with one no-decision. He also knew how to close out the deal when the game came down to the wire, including a 3-1 win over Seymour on May 19 and a huge 3-2 victory over Watertown on May 26.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.
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