Pittsfield's LaPierre Inks Letter of Intent to Play Baseball at Hartford

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- On a day better suited to his winter sport of choice, Pittsfield senior Ryan LaPierre Wednesday signed his National Letter of Intent to follow his spring passion to the Nutmeg State.
LaPierre committed to attend and play baseball next fall at the University of Hartford.
Thursday night, he will be competing closer to home -- and on skates -- as a captain on the Wahconah cooperative ice hockey team when it opens its season at the Boys and Girls Club.
The 6-foot-3 pitcher/forward said his coaches for the Division I Hawks are fine with him finishing out his hockey career.
“I think they’re on board with the dual-sport athletes keeping in shape,” LaPierre said after a brief NLOI signing ceremony in the PHS lobby.
Starting in late March -- and likely for the next four years at least -- LaPierre’s athletic focus will be narrowed down as he attempts to help the Generals match last year’s 19-3 finish and the Hawks continue a recent run of success that saw Hartford win the America East title and go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program’s history last spring.
LaPierre said he looked at a number of different schools at the Division I and II levels before deciding that Hartford was the right choice athletically and academically.
“Basically, when I got on campus, after my tour, they brought me in a room and talked about how they’re going to put me in the best position to be the best baseball player that I could be,” LaPierre said. “I liked that and the sense of community at Hartford … I could just tell, being around there, being around some of the baseball guys, I’m just really excited.”
LaPierre long has had an interest in making himself the best baseball player he can be.
“He always seemed to rise to the level,” Ryan’s father, Mike LaPierre said. “And the next level up, he’d rise to that level. All the way through, you’d suspect [Ryan could get to this point], but it’s all about hard work and what you do off the field.
“He works out in our garage when it’s 10 degrees out. He runs suicides out on Benedict Road using telephone poles as the starts and stops. That’s not normal.
“You’ve got to want it. It’s not magic.”
In the last three years, the city’s two public high schools have sent 13 players on to the collegiate ranks at various levels, Pittsfield/Taconic Athletic Director Jim Abel said on Wednesday.
Examples like LaPierre and fellow DI athletes Kevin Donati (Pittsfield to University at Albany) and Drew DeMartino (Taconic to Hartford) only can help motivate those who come after them.
“For me, as a coach, it’s great,” PHS coach Seamus Morrison said. “Not that we recruit or anything like that, but to have a kid like that come through the program, who is just a standup kid, very, very well mannered, does well in school … He didn’t come in as, like, the best player. But he had the mentality that he was going to be the best. And he put in the hard work to get there.
“So all that makes me extremely proud as a coach and makes me extremely proud as a member of the community, to see kids like him and Kevin Donati and Drew DeMartino -- all really, really good kids with really bright futures.
“It’s great to see.”
LaPierre said that moving on to play with DiMartino -- a sophomore this spring at Hartford -- will be a bonus.
“When I was younger, I always heard great things about Drew, and I always played under him,” LaPierre said. “I’ve kind of looked up to him. I actually saw him this weekend. I went down for my official visit, and he kind of took me under his wing. He’s a really good kid. He explained the program to me.
“I’m glad to have someone there to help me.”
Both Abel and PHS Principal Henry Duval emphasized LaPierre’s success in the classroom, where he has a 3.5 grade point average while maintaining a challenging schedule that includes honors and Advanced Placement courses. At Hartford, LaPierre is thinking about a major either in the business field or digital media and journalism, he said.
After signing his commitment letter while flanked by parents Barbara and Mike and in view of his grandparents and dozens of Pittsfield High classmates, Ryan LaPierre said that Hartford’s location was another selling point that helped put the program at the top of his list.
“I like how it’s decently far so I can get back home from to time, but it’s also not that close that it feels like I’m not leaving for college,” he said.
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