Logan McLaughlin has gone to great lengths to play baseball this summer.
McLaughlin, a pitcher-infielder who helped Central Aroostook of Mars Hill win the 2010 Eastern Maine Class C championship, had planned to play another season of American Legion baseball with the Presque Isle Patriots.
But when Aroostook County’s lone Legion team folded this spring due to a lack of player interest, McLaughlin opted to play for the next nearest team available — the Lincoln Lumber — which requires a 1-hour, 45-minute drive for home games and practices, not to mention road trips as far away as Calais, Blue Hill and Searsport.
If that wasn’t enough travel, McLaughlin recently returned from a weeklong trip to Puerto Rico as part of a U.S. team that played a series of games there through the Coast to Coast Athletics program.
McLaughlin tried out for the program last year at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor and was selected for a trip that began July 4 and concluded last Saturday.
“I could have gone to a showcase camp in Florida or Arizona,” said McLaughlin, who will be a senior at Central Aroostook in the fall. “But I just thought it would be a great experience to go to Puerto Rico and play in a different atmosphere. I think it really helped me.”
During his week in Puerto Rico, McLaughlin participated in numerous instructional sessions as well as eight games during a three-day stretch. His team was coached by Chip Stahl, baseball program director for Coast to Coast Athletics, and James King, a former professional baseball player and now an associate scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It was pretty much what I expected,” said McLaughlin, whose team finished with a 6-2 record. “There was some pretty good competition down there. One night we’d beat a team pretty bad, and the next night we’d lose a game.
“It was a pretty good experience overall. Some of the fields we played on were pretty nice, some weren’t as nice. At some places when someone hit a foul ball out of play, you took two people to go after it just in case.”
McLaughlin will return to American Legion duty Thursday when Lincoln opens play against Motor City of Orono at the six-team Zone 1 tournament to be held at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University in Bangor.
Since its formation in 1999, Coast to Coast Athletics has taken nearly 2,000 athletes from 46 states, Canada, Mexico, Germany and the Dominican Republic to international competitions, and many of the program’s alumni have gone on to play at both the college and professional levels.
The program is open to players between ages 11 and 18, the majority of whom are selected at open tryouts held in more than 30 states annually. The organization also accepts athletes recommended by a college coach or pro scout. Once chosen players may represent the U.S. in competition in Puerto Rico or work with college coaches and pro scouts at showcase events held at Major League Baseball spring training complexes in Florida or Arizona.
Hill changes Messalonskee posts
Tom Hill has stepped down after seven seasons as the boys varsity basketball coach at Messalonskee of Oakland after accepting a job as the school’s athletic administrator.
Hill replaces Jim Marascio, who has retired.
During his tenure as Messalonskee’s basketball coach, he guided the Eagles to five postseason appearances, highlighted by a trip to the 2007 Eastern Maine Class A final where they fell to that year’s state champion, Bangor.
Hill compiled a 73-65 record at Messalonskee after going 36-7 in two years at Winthrop — winning a Western C title in 2003.
Hill also coached five seasons at Erskine Academy of South China and for two years at Maranacook of Readfield.
The Messalonskee post is the second off-season coaching change in the Eastern A schoolboy basketball ranks. Troy Scott earlier stepped down at Skowhegan and was replaced by Mt. Blue of Farmington assistant coach David Simpson.