On and Off Field, McCormack is Number One

Ryan Thomas

He wears number one for the Beacons. It could be just a coincidence, since Mark McCormack is a freshman and freshmen don’t usually get much choice when it comes to the numerical depiction on their back.

But for McCormack, the number one has become symbolic this season. Symbolic in a sense that he bats leadoff for the Beacons, the number one spot in the lineup. Or symbolic in a sense that he is currently the number one reason why UMass Boston baseball is where they are right now.

Tipping the scale at 150 pounds and standing at a modest 5-foot-8, McCormack wouldn’t strike many as the type of person that is producing numbers at a Ted Williams-like pace, but the Beacons’ everyday centerfielder has been putting up nasty numbers this season. Through 21 games, McCormack is scorching opposing pitchers to the tune of a .403 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage while setting the table for a Beacons squad that is averaging seven runs per game.

“The kid’s a stud,” said senior outfielder and second baseman Ryan Oshima. “He’s got a very nice swing. He uses his entire body [and] he uses his lower half very well. When he hits the ball, it just jumps. I can’t think of too many little flares. When he hits the ball, he hits it hard. No cheap hits for him.”

The Beacons’ spark plug at the top of the lineup, McCormack has been raking all season and his numbers so far stack up against those of many who have more than one or two years of collegiate experience. He currently finds himself in the top 10 of seven different Little East Conference offensive categories, including batting average, on-base percentage, homeruns (fifth), runs scored (eighth), and hits (seventh).

Even more impressive than his overall numbers have been the otherworldly ones he has put up through four Conference games. The Beacons, going into last weekend’s conference schedule, sit first in the Little East (3-1) thanks in large to McCormack’s table setting. He did the majority of his damage against UMass Dartmouth two weekends ago, but the rookie is batting .500 with nine RBIs, seven runs scored, four doubles, two homeruns and a walk from the top spot in the lineup.

“There’s not much more really you can ask from the kid. He’s playing a very solid centerfield and he’s hitting the [crap] out of the ball”, says Oshima.

Second year assistant coach Kraig Kupiec said that he and head coach Brendan Eygaborat knew McCormack would be an everyday contributor this season, but admitted they didn’t expect such ample production so soon. “McCormick has been a pleasant surprise,” Kupiec said. “We knew when he arrived here that we had a very talented player but his early contribution to the team thus far has been outstanding.”

Aside from his unquestionable skills as a hitter and a fielder (he has four outfield assists and only four errors this season), Oshima said the most impressive aspects of McCormack have been his off the field qualities.

“His humility and his willingness to learn and to listen are great. Being a freshman and having the kind of success he’s having, its easy for a lot of kids to get on their high horse and say, ‘you can’t tell me what to do, I’m starting this, I’m hitting this.’ He’s not like that at all.

“He’s a very humble kid. His head is not blowing up, he’s very down to earth, he’s taking it all in. He’s a freshman with the maturity of a senior. He’s handling it all very, very well.”

Even when prodded to point out a weakness in McCormack’s game, Oshima couldn’t find anything negative to say and just went on about how effortlessly he tracks fly balls in centerfield and how mature he is for his age.

McCormack is already one of the better baseball players the Little East has to offer and with more experience in the collegiate ranks, his skills will only become more refined. He’s close to being a five-tool player. Give him another year, and he could be one of the best players in the Little East.