Connor Cowern, Ashland Baseball
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Connor Cowern was all set to try out for the Ashland High School baseball team four years ago during his freshman season, but found out rather abruptly there would be no season, leaving him somewhat devasted.
“I had been playing baseball since I was 5 years old with my grandfather being a big part of it,” he said. “My freshman year we had gone through the captains’ practices, I was hitting the ball really well and was hoping to make the varsity team. Then there was no season due to Covid, it was hard to digest and having no season was a bummer.”
Although the pandemic put a stop to the season, Cowern didn’t let it affect his game. That summer he got to participate in some practices the Metro West Devils and also joined the Ashland American Legion team to keep his skills sharp.
Things worked in his favor as he made the varsity team during his sophomore campaign, but unfortunately was not playing his long-time position.
“I was completely fine playing second base, although my primary position was shortstop. As long as I was on the team, it didn’t matter where I played,” Cowern said. “I was playing really well, and the shortstop seemed to be struggling so the coach switched us, and I’ve been a fixture there since.”
Cowern managed to hit .308 that year, which wasn’t that bad for a sophomore playing in his first varsity season, but it wasn’t up to his standards. During the offseason he worked extremely hard and continued to play summer baseball to improve for his junior year. As a second-year player with the Clockers he upped his batting average to .448 with more power, but he definitely wanted to keep improving.
Prior to his senior season, Cowern not only played with the Devils, but he joined the Framingham American Legion, when the Coach asked him to play for the team and quickly found out it was much different that what he had been used to.
“It was great being able to play baseball all day long between the two teams. There were some days that I’d play three games; it helped me get better at the plate and I got to see a lot of ground balls in the field,” Cowern said. “Playing for Framingham American Legion team was totally different, it was so laid back and fun, while Ashland American Legion was much more serious.”
In addition to playing baseball all season, Cowern decided to join the Ashland football team, hoping it would help his agility and speed on the diamond.
“I wanted to experience having fun with my football friends. I played a lot of corner but would have liked to play more offense; I guess I was pretty good at defense, so Coach McKay kept me there,” he said. “I had a lot of fun, but I also believe that football helped me with my movement.”
With all the extra curriculum activities Cowern improved his hitting to .468 this past season but it should have been a lot higher. Cowern noted that he struggled down the stretch when he felt he was hitting the ball right at people. When he struck out three times in one game, he then found himself spending a lot of time at the batting cages to prepare for the State Tournament.
“This season his defense was great, and he was hitting the cover off the ball. At one point he was hitting .543 before his struggles,” Ashland Coach Matt Messer said. “I think that his decision to play football really helped with his competitiveness this year.”
This year, hitting in the cleanup spot, Cowern was able to lay down his first ever bunt.
“Coach gave me the signal and I just focused on getting the ball down and then running fast,” Cowern said. “The opposing team was caught off guard, they never imagined the four-hitter putting down a bunt.”
When the season comes to an end, Cowern will continue to play baseball next year in college. Last August he committed to St. Anslem College in Manchester, N.H., where he is hoping to break into the starting lineup.
“I know they will be graduating a lot of the infield, so I’m hoping that I can play short stop, but I’d have no issues playing second, third or even the outfield,” he said. “I’m just hoping to get a chance to play.”
Prior to getting the chance to play for St. Anslem, Cowern and his Clocker teammates have some business to attend too. At the time of this writing, Ashland was getting ready to participate in the Division 3 State Baseball Tournament. Cowern is hoping to get past the second round. Over the past two seasons Ashland has posted a shutout in the first round only to be knocked out in the second.
Ashland is headed into the tournament as the eighth seed and will open at home against Worcester Tech. With a win they will host a second-round game and would have the possibility of picking up a second-round win