Catcher Jack Arend found a home behind the plate, but that didn’t stop him from going outside his comfort zone and playing the other eight positions all in the same nine-inning game.

Catcher Jack Arend gets ready for a game. Peggy Arend photo

The 2020 Bates College graduate and switch-hitter, who played for the Bobcats for four seasons and was the team’s captain since his junior year, was given the green light to switch in and out of every position for the Nashua Silver Knights, who played against the host Westfield Starfires in the last regular-season game of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League this past week before winning the league title Saturday night.

“That was fun. I went from catcher to right (field), to center, to left, then third (base), shortstop, second, first and I actually closed the game (and got the save),” Arend said. “We had the lead and it was like the eighth inning or the top of ninth and I was throwing in the bullpen. I threw 80% knuckleballs. It was fun. Obviously, me getting into pitch is slim to none. I threw a couple of knuckleballs and it felt good.

“I struck a kid out. I broke up a kid’s bat…and I had a good game. I was Player of the Night. I went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double and three RBIs. That was probably one of my favorite nights playing.

“And it’s as cool too, because Westfield’s head coach is Tony Deshler, who is the assistant coach at Bates. It was cool to do it in front of coach Deshler, who has coached me the last four years. I bet he was happy.”

After the Knights’ last home game, that’s when Arend found out that he was about to have his whirlwind tour, which helped Nashua snatch a 4-3 win over Westfield.

“(Silver Knights coach Kyle Jackson said) ‘Alright Jack, you are playing all nine positions in Westfield tomorrow,'” Arend recalled. “I said, ‘Cool.’ We were already in the playoffs and technically the game didn’t count. He just wanted to get a bunch of guys in that were going to play in the playoffs.

“It is kind of cool to have all your teammates cheer you on… It was definitely a memorable game.”

CALLING THE SHOTS

Arend relishes his position as a leader who gets to call pitches and enjoy the perfect vantage point of the entire field.

“I love being in charge of the game,” Arend said. “Being a catcher, you get to call your own game. You can see everything on the field. That’s where my leadership ability is kind of being displayed. So in high school, I got to call my own games, and what to call to certain players and what not to call. It is kind of like a trial-and-error situation.”

He added that being a switch-hitter is a tough gig, but he enjoys the challenge.

“It is like hitting with two different people in one body,” he explained. “Naturally for me, I am better defensively and I have really good instincts. I understand situations well, and that is also a credit to playing in the Futures League.”

After being robbed of a full senior baseball season at Bates when COVID-19 appeared in Maine, Arend looked to his uncertain future. He is now playing in his third and final season in the Futures League and has spent the last two seasons playing for the Nashua Silver Knights.

The Futures League, based in New England is a wooden-bat summer baseball league composed of top-notch college athletes. Before he began playing for the Knights, Arend was a member of the FCBL’s Brockton Rox in 2018.

Bates baseball coach Jon Martin isn’t surprised at Arend’s get-up and go attitude and versatility.

“Jack is a true ballplayer,” Martin said. “When you watch him compete and go about his business, you know he truly loves to play the game. He leads by example, works hard, has fun and has a strong desire to win.

“There’s not much he can’t do on the field. Catcher is a very difficult position to play, and play it well. You have to be tough, resilient, and athletic. He displays all of these things when he plays.”

Arend’s desire comes from his competitive edge — and the Futures League has taught him well.

“The competition, especially this year, is really good just because the Cape Cod League shut down,” he said. “We have a lot talent in the league. There’s some crazy talent.”

Arend got an opportunity to play this summer because he was still eligible after his abbreviated college season at Bates was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Bates College catcher Jack Arend heads down the baseline in a game against Brandeis University in February in Winter Haven, Fla. Andy Meng/Stageshot Photography

“Of course we are proud of him,” Martin said. “He’s had a great career and it’s going to continue next year at Nichols College. In my opinion, the Futures League has always been a premier summer league for college players. We do our best to push the premier players in our program to play there, as roster spots are very limited.”

Arend added that players have to wear masks in the locker room and have their temperatures taken each day. According to Arend, no COVID-19 cases on the team have been reported.

“I think that people are just excited we are playing baseball,” he said. 

The Silver Knights added to the excitement when they beat the Worcester Bravehearts, 5-3, to win the FCBL Championship on Saturday night.

 

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

At Bates, he arrived at the right moment to become the starting catcher as a freshman.

“I fell into a lucky position because there was only me as a catcher who that kind of showed up,” he said. “So I fell into a position right away that I could kind of start. That’s not very common…and I got very lucky.”

“Jack is a first-class baseball player and person,”  Martin said. “He will accomplish anything he puts his mind to, I have no doubt. I like everything about Jack, except the season he wore a man bun. Not a good look.”

Arend, a Newhills, N.H. native, was a psychology major at Bates. For his thesis, he helped create a leadership development program for student athletes at the college.

“That should be up and running in a year or so, which is pretty cool,” Arend said. “For my research, I actually interviewed 15, 16 staff members, like coaches and administrators, then I had to survey like 200 student-athletes, which was really cool.

“The goal wasn’t to create leaders on a sports field. It’s once you leave Bates, how do you become a leader in your job or in your community. So basically, it is trying to follow your life after Bates.”

He will next be attending Nichols College in Dudley, Mass. in the fall to obtain a pair of masters degrees and play baseball for the college for one year. He is going get a masters in business administration and a masters of science in organizational leadership.

“Personally, I want to coach baseball at the collegiate level,” he said. “I knew I have more to give to baseball and coach Jon Martin has been a really big mentor to me. The second year there I will be a student coach, and then from there, I am trying to coach at the highest level in college baseball that I can get to.”

Sounds like a solid plan from a young man who has no problem doing it all.


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