ORONO — As the only senior starter on the University of Maine baseball team, Joey Martin is expected to be a leader.
That doesn’t mean the co-captain from Portland goes out of his way to exert his influence on his Black Bear teammates. That isn’t his style.
Instead, Martin quietly shares the wealth of knowledge gleaned from five years of Division I experience by doing anything he can to help UMaine win.
Martin’s determination and poise have enabled him to put together a strong season that has led coach Steve Trimper’s team to a 23-21 record (11-5 America East) heading into this weekend’s three-game series against Hartford at Mahaney Diamond.
Martin’s competitive, yet subdued, style sets a positive tone for the team.
“He just has that maturity, an almost pro-level manner about the way he approaches the game,” Trimper said. “That’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful.”
The versatile Martin has spent much of this season in right field, but also plays first base. He ranks second among full-time starters with a .309 batting average.
Martin leads UMaine with 35 runs batted in, is tied for first with 50 hits and ranks second on the squad in at-bats (162), home runs (3), stolen bases (13), runs scored (27), doubles (8) and triples (3).
“I think it’s just working hard the whole year and sometimes it all clicks at once,” he said of his offensive success and the Bears’ recent surge during an eight-game winning streak.
“It’s a lot easier walking up to the plate with a guy on second and third as opposed to no one on base,” he added. “That’s helped me out a lot with RBIs, my teammates getting on base for me.”
Martin was in bit of a slump after UMaine’s return from Florida, but methodically worked out the kinks. He studied video from the offseason to fix some mechanical issues with his swing.
“You’ve always got to be making those subtle adjustments,” said the former Portland High School star.
“It’s mostly mental when I step in the box recently,” Martin said. “I feel confident.”
Martin’s contributions go beyond achievements that can be measured by statistics. His dedication to perfecting his craft isn’t lost on his teammates.
He’s more of a pied piper-style leader.
“He’s always a hard-nosed guy. We see that and we always follow along with what the captains do,” said sophomore Pat Thibodeau of Caribou, who noted Martin’s commitment to weight training.
“He’s a guy that does it and everyone else follows him,” he added.
Martin has reached out to younger players to help ease their transition from high school to Division I ball. He remembers benefiting from a redshirt year.
“Joey’s been great since the first day that we got here,” said freshman Eric White of Brewer. “He was the guy that we were all looking up to when we were coming in.”
Martin takes the responsibility of being a leader seriously, but he’ll rarely break out into a rah-rah speech or lectures his teammates.
He views leadership as more of a collective effort that requires each player to do his part not only for their own benefit, but for the good of the whole.
Martin relies on his fellow co-captains, senior Joe Miller and junior Taylor Lewis, along with junior twins Ian Leisenheimer and Justin Leisenheimer, to provide emotional spark.
“They voice their opinions,” Martin said. “We need it from everywhere.”
Prior to UMaine, Martin excelled in football as a wide receiver. He was a finalist for the prestigious Fitzpatrick Trophy, given to the state’s top senior football player-sportsman, in 2006.
Baseball has always been his first love. His passion for the game was fostered by his father Kevin, who helped coach Joey’s baseball teams up through the youth ranks, including two trips to the Babe Ruth World Series.
“He was always there throwing me BP (batting practice) and stuff,” Martin said. “He was never too hard on me. He knew that I was driven enough inside. He was kind of like that, too, a quiet but hardworking guy.”
Representing Portland and the state are important to Martin and his efforts have influenced young Maine players such as White.
“There aren’t too many Maine guys that have come in here the last few years and been as successful as Joe, so we want to follow in his footsteps,” White said.
Martin sets the tone for the demeanor of the ballclub with his constant poise and focus.
“Joey’s calm, cool and collected,” Trimper said. “He doesn’t get too high and he doesn’t get too low. He doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him.”
Martin graduated this spring with a degree in communications. He would welcome the chance to try pro ball, but has lined up some job interviews.
His focus is to help UMaine generate momentum heading into the America East tournament.
“We’re hitting our stride at the right time,” Martin said. “We’ve got seven more games until the conference tournament, so hopefully we keep it going.”