The baseball program at UConn Avery Point has a long tradition of sending student-athletes to eventually play at UConn Storrs. On Tuesday, April 27, the entire Pointer team made the trip.
UConn Avery Point made the brand-new Elliot Ballpark its home-away-from-home for a day as it took on Northern Essex Community College from Haverhill, Massachusetts. Although Avery Point lost a tough 4-3, 10-inning game, the entire experience was a thrill for the team.
“I’ve seen plenty of photos of the field, but they don’t do it justice,” says pitcher Bryce Mileski, a business major from Griswold. “When you see it in person, it is stunning.”
UConn Avery Point is the only campus other than Storrs that has its own athletic teams, with men’s and women’s basketball joining baseball. The baseball team has a proud tradition of developing players that eventually play at UConn and other college programs.
Pete Walker ’90 (CLAS) started his collegiate career at Avery Point and helped lead UConn to the 1990 Big East tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament. After a 12-year major league career, he currently is in his ninth year as the pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rajai Davis, who also played at Avery Point, recently ended a 14-year run in the majors and played for the 2016 American League champion Cleveland Indians.
“It’s been a great relationship between the baseball programs at Avery Point and Storrs,” says current Pointer coach Ian Ratchford, who played at Avery Point himself before graduating and competing at Post College in Waterbury. “We try to do our best as our program to give our players the chance to come up here to Storrs and help out.”
Recent Avery Point products who have played for the Storrs program include Ryan Fuller ’12 (CLAS), who was part of the 2011 Husky team that advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals, and Stanley Paul ’13 (CLAS), who played for the Huskies in the 2013 NCAAs.
Any talk about Avery Point baseball also has to mention long-time coach Roger Bidwell ’76 (ED), who led the program for 34 seasons before retiring in 2018 and won over a 1,000 games.
“Avery Point is a unique situation,” says Ratchford. “We play athletically against junior colleges, but academically we are UConn. We need kids who are good students and are diamonds in the rough, baseball-wise. They might have been overlooked in high school, but can potentially play Division I or Division II.”
Jaden Fowler is a freshman member of the Avery Point team and the Vernon native attended East Catholic High School in Manchester, just like current Husky head coach Jim Penders ’94 (CLAS), ’98.
“It’s a great way for people to go from high school to college and give them a few extra years to develop by leaps and bounds to take the next step,” says Fowler.
Avery Point director of athletics Michael Kobylanski was thankful for the opportunity to play at the new Elliot Ballpark.
“I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the UConn Division of Athletics and the baseball program for providing the opportunity for us to play at Elliot Ballpark,” says Kobylanski. “Cat Zuppani, Jamie Moran, Evan Feinglass, and the Facility Operations team went above and beyond to create a truly memorable experience for our student-athletes and coaches. Avery Point has enjoyed a long tradition of success on the diamond, as well as a long tradition of sending baseball student-athletes to the Storrs program. We hope that playing at Elliot Ballpark can become an annual tradition as we move forward.”