Former Bangor High School standout Kyle Vanidestine had an exceptional freshman season at Husson University last spring.
Vanidestine hit .312, led the team in runs scored with 52 and stole 22 bases in 23 tries. He was named the North Atlantic Conference’s Rookie of the Year and earned a berth on the All-NAC first team.
The left fielder and leadoff hitter will have a key role in the Husson offense this season beginning Sunday when the Eagles open their 11-game spring trip to Florida against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.).
“He’s going to set the tone for us. He’ll be the sparkplug at the top of the order,” said Husson coach Jason Harvey. “He’s going to be very important. If he gets on base to start an inning and steals a base to get into scoring position with nobody out, then we can do something offensively.
“When he first came in last year, he definitely had some tools. Then he hit a [hot] spurt and we moved him from ninth to the top of the lineup. He got everything going. Whenever we had a big inning, he was involved in some way,” Harvey added.
Junior center fielder Tom Crews, Vanidestine’s former teammate at Bangor High as well as his current teammate at Husson, said he wasn’t surprised at Vanidestine’s success last season.
“He steps it up when he needs to,” said Crews. “It was nice to see him have a good year.”
Vanidestine, who had two homers and 26 runs batted in, isn’t a typical leadoff hitter. He is an aggressive hitter who rarely walks.
He drew just 13 walks in 213 plate appearances.
Vanidestine said he was surprised to be named Rookie of the Year and was pleased with his season.
“I was happy with it. But there’s plenty of room to improve and, hopefully, I will,” said Vanidestine, son of former Bangor High and University of Maine star right fielder Tommy Vanidestine.
Harvey expects the sophomore to be a little more selective this season.
“He is more experienced and has worked really hard on hitting off-speed pitches the other way,” said Harvey who called him a good fastball hitter.
“I’ll be more relaxed this year and that will help me keep my weight back,” said Vanidestine. “That will help me with off-speed pitches and make me a better hitter. If I’m more patient, I’ll get on base even more and that will help us out.”
He said he has felt good at the plate in practice and hopes it translates into a fast start in Florida.
Husson left-handed pitcher Ryan Arsenault said Vanidestine is a tough out.
“He makes pitchers work and the last thing a pitcher wants is to have to go deep into counts,” said Arsenault.
When it comes to stealing bases, Vanidestine locks in on the pitchers’ front leg and as soon as the pitcher’s leg heads toward the plate, he’s off.
“”I go on his first move,,” he said.
“He’s very fast on the bases. I think he’ll get even more stolen bases this year,” said Crews.
The right-handed hitting Vanidestine is equally aggressive in the outfield.
“He can track down the ball. He’ll lay out to try to come up with the big play,” said Harvey.
“We’ll have one of the fastest outfields in Division III baseball,” said Arsenault.