Chris Piccirillo, Sports Editor • Contact ReporterPublished Jul 05, 2018 • Last Updated 01:02 pm, July 05, 2018
Kevin Lucey felt a tremendous sense of pride when he attended the North Haven baseball team’s annual season-ending banquet. The most special aspect of the evening for Kevin was that it marked the culmination of an excellent high-school career in which he started at catcher for two years, served as a senior captain this spring, and helped the Indians record 37 victories between those two seasons. What was already a wonderful night for Kevin just kept getting better and better as he was also presented with a pair of awards that symbolize the impact he’s had on North Haven baseball.
After hitting .338 as a junior, Kevin improved his batting average to .422 this year, including two home runs, to go with 13 walks and 25 RBI. As a result of these robust totals, Kevin earned a spot on the All-SCC Quinnipiac Division Team and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) All-State Class L Team for the 2018 season.
However, Kevin’s impact on the Indians went way beyond his numbers in the box score. Head Coach Bob DeMayo describes Kevin as the type of player who sets his mind on overcoming a challenge, sticks to it, and does as much works as it takes to reach his goal. This lead-by-example demeanor is why Kevin received North Haven’s Sportsmanship Award at the banquet, as well as the DeMayo Scholarship that’s named in honor of the Indians’ coach.
“His leadership, competitive desire, ability to work with his teammates—Kevin is just the epitome of what I think a North Haven baseball player should be,” DeMayo says. “Kevin is the kind of kid that, once he starts something, he puts his nose down and works at it. He’s been a joy to coach.”
There are three pieces of criteria that are required for someone to receive the DeMayo Scholarship: demonstrating a persistent and determined work ethic to get the most out of your natural talent and ability, understanding and exemplifying an unselfish commitment to the team concept, and possessing the integrity and characteristics that are expected of a North Haven High School baseball player. Kevin says it means a lot to know that he met the call of duty in all three regards to earn such a prestigious award.
“It’s about being a team player, and it’s important to me that I fulfilled that criteria as a high-school player,” Kevin says. “Coach has over 900 wins and he’s helped so many kids become better people, and so it was humbling to have an award with his name on it given to me.”
Kevin felt especially humbled when DeMayo took the podium to discuss his influence on the Indians these last few seasons. Kevin says that DeMayo’s words made him feel fulfilled about what he’s accomplished during his tenure with the team.
“Coach said that he appreciated how well I did as a catcher behind the plate and hitting-wise at the plate, and it was great to get praise from coach,” says Kevin, who also recorded a 4.15 GPA at North Haven High School. “As a sophomore, I always wanted to impress him and, as a senior, I feel like I had a great relationship with him. It was great to see that all come together during the banquet.”
The North Haven baseball team’s banquet wasn’t the only one that Kevin attended at the end of the season. He also went to the CHSCA All-State banquet to receive All-State accolades for his performance as a senior. Kevin says that was another humbling experience, but for different reasons.
“It was humbling to see all the guys who went All-State this year and helped their teams go far. You see people who were [drafted by Major League Baseball teams] sitting right next to you, and it’s really humbling to be a part of that group,” he says. “It was exciting. I’m always trying to help my team, but it’s nice to have goals to push you to new heights. It was important for me to get All-State and, when I got it, I was really excited.”
One of the biggest ways Kevin helped the Indians was with his leadership as the team’s catcher. Kevin likes how playing that position allows him to be involved in every play, and he welcomes the responsibility that comes with donning the gear.
“I have to be on top of everything. I have to catch every pitch, make sure our pitchers are doing their job and our infielders are in position, block balls to keep runners from getting extra bases, and listen to coach to see what pitch he calls,” Kevin says. “I get to work with everyone. The catcher is always the leader of the defense, and it’s great to know that I’m the guy the defense runs through. I feel like I’m more a part of the team as a catcher.”
DeMayo was a catcher, too, and so he’s well-versed in what it takes to play such a demanding position. DeMayo, who has coached North Haven for 60 years, puts Kevin on the short list as one of the best catchers to ever man the dish for the Indians.
“We have a long list of outstanding catchers, and Kevin ranks right up there,” says DeMayo. “He blocks balls with the best of them, he knows how to calm pitchers down. He does all the things that a catcher needs to do.”
One of the biggest highlights of North Haven’s season came when DeMayo earned his 900th win as head coach with a 7-6 victory versus Amity in the SCC Tournament quarterfinals. Kevin says that win was “a pleasure to a part of,” and that he “felt proud to be a captain of the team,” when DeMayo reached his milestone.
The following week, the Indians opened play in the Class L State Tournament, where they rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the seventh inning to earn a 9-6 walk-off win against Berlin in a second-round contest. Kevin hit a key double in the inning to help North Haven piece together its epic comeback that was capped off by Dave Christoforo’s walk-off home run.
“Dave led off with a homer and, when I hit that double, I knew that would start a rally. We weren’t going to go out the easy way. Guys got walks, they got hits, and Dave capped it off with another home run. It was nice to see a good team victory like that,” says Kevin. “We knew we had to do everything that we could to advance. They always say North Haven is a blue-collar town with hard-working kids, and that showed in that game. We showed that we’re a team that can tough out good at-bats and score runs in a hurry. It was great to see the team work so hard that inning.”
Kevin, who also plays for the Post 76 Senior American Legion team, is going to continue his baseball career at Mitchell College in New London. As he looks back at his time at North Haven High School, Kevin feels proud that he realized his childhood dream by competing for his hometown squad, while learning a lot about life in the process.
“I looked up to the guys who played varsity when I was a young kid. They seemed like pro players to me, and it feels great to achieve my goal by becoming a varsity player and being a captain for this team,” Kevin says. “Playing baseball here made me a better person and taught me a lot about how to build friendships and keep your cool when things aren’t going your way. It’s great to know I’m part of the elite club of being a North Haven baseball player.”