WESTERLY — Determining the value of a player to his team is obviously a subjective assessment.
The Westerly High baseball team had a number of players contribute to their Division II-South championship in 2014 but, at least in the eyes of the Division II coaches, Cam Newell stood out as the most important contributor.
The senior first baseman was named Division II-South MVP and was a first-team selection after a stellar campaign.
Newell led Westerly in batting average. His .433 mark was the best average posted by a Bulldog player since Ben Rice hit .476 in 2008.
“He stayed back on pitches and had really great plate discipline,” Westerly coach Bob Cahoone said.
Newell was also second on the team in RBIs (20) and had seven extra base hits including a home run.
Cahoone said Newell’s contributions went far beyond just what he did at the plate.
“His leadership, his work ethic — they were both outstanding,” Cahoone said. “He came in in great shape and really dedicated himself. He’s going to play baseball at Wentworth Institute of Technology (Boston).
“He made leaps and bounds (of improvement) defensively. He picked a lot of balls out of the dirt. He had good range too, made a few diving plays at first base.”
Newell’s MVP selection marked the first time since 2011 that a Westerly player earned one of the four major Division II awards (Cy Young, Outstanding Player, MVP, Gold Glove). Brandon Ford won the Cy Young in 2011.
In a Division II playoff game against Chariho, Newell drove in a pair of runs on a double and a homer and helped the Bulldogs beat the Chargers 6-5 on May 31.
Newell made the Division II-South first-team in 2013.
Senior shortstop Kyle Allen was one of three Westerly players to earn one of the 14 spots on the Division II-South first-team.
Allen was second on the team in batting average (.390), and led the team in total hits (30), extra base hits (11) and home runs (two).
“He has really quick hands,” Cahoone said. “He uses the whole field, but he can also turn on a ball quick. His two home runs were to left field.
“He bounced back from kind of a tough year last year with his hitting.”
Allen’s average improved dramatically from 2013 when he hit just .234.
Cahoone said that Allen has made strides with his defense.
“He stepped in at shortstop halfway through his freshman year,” Cahoone said. “His defense has really improved. He had a solid year at shortstop.”
Allen did not win an award in 2013, but was named to the Division II-South first-team in his sophomore year.
Anthony Garro split time as a right fielder and designated hitter and earned a spot on the Division II first-team with his bat.
Garro had 24 hits and all of them were singles. Despite the lack of extra base hits, Garro still led the Bulldogs with 27 RBIs.
“He was a really clutch hitter for us,” Cahoone said. “He won the game against Exeter (West-Greenwich) for us in that 11-inning game. He just busted it down the line and legged out a single.”
Cahoone said that hard-work and unselfishness are hallmarks of Garro’s game.
“He moved to the outfield because he knew that we were a better team with Cam (Newell) on the field. So we put Cam at first and we moved him to right.
“He even pitched some relief innings for us. He just did whatever we needed.”
Garro pitched seven scoreless innings in the 1-0, 11-inning Westerly win over Exeter-West Greenwich May 15.
It was Garro’s first postseason award.
Senior starting pitcher Kyle Gencarelli rounded out the Division II first-teamers.
Gencarelli pitched in 11 games including six starts. He posted a 3-2-1 mark with a 1.88 earned run average, led Westerly with 44 2⁄3 innings pitched and struck out 39 batters.
“He’s a control pitcher, he held runners very well,” Cahoone said. “He’ll take the ball any time. He pitched a lot of innings for us. He almost always went six or seven innings every time he started and he gave us a lot of good relief innings too.
“He pitched a 1-hitter against Prout (in a six inning game May 16). He beat Prout both times we played them and Prout was second in our division.”
Cahoone said Gencarelli was a little disappointed in his production at the plate (.209 batting average), but said Gencarelli had a lot of hard hit balls that went for outs.
Gencarelli earned a Division II first-team spot as a junior and made the second-team as a sophomore.
Junior pitcher Jake Garro was tied for the most starts with seven for the Bulldogs en route to a Division II second-team honor (the first of his career).
Cahoone said the younger Garro showed a lot of potential in his role as a No. 2 starter in his junior season.
Garro posted a 3.25 ERA over 33 2⁄3 innings and struck out 26 batters.
Brenton Rayner, a senior, was also one of the 14 players to earn a second-team spot.
Rayner was Westerly’s primary relief pitcher and led the Bulldogs with 16 appearances (three starts).
Rayner pitched an even 37 innings, posted a 3.03 ERA and struck out 46.
Cahoone said Rayner was a reliable pitcher who also played well at third base.
Rayner, like Jake Garro, was a first-time award winner.
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