CLICK HERE TO READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE, written by Eagle Tribune Staff Writer Dave Dyer
Among everything that Derry's Joey Murphy has going for him as a baseball player, two things stand out.
First, he's a natural shortstop and, second, he's got speed to burn.
Both have been instrumental in helping the former Pinkerton standout play key roles for Saint Joseph's College and, in his first summer in the North Shore Baseball League, with the Kingston Night Owls.
In two years at Saint Joseph's, Murphy has hit .331 and .337 and, this summer, he's pacing the league-leading Night Owls (16-6) with a .351 average and 13 runs scored. And he has yet to play much shortstop on either team.
"My natural position is definitely shortstop," said Murphy. "But when I got there (Saint Joseph's), they had a junior shortstop, so they put me at second. I'll be playing shortstop next year."
The Night Owls already had slick-fielding Nick Comei of Haverhill at shortstop so he switched to third base and has also filled in admirably in center field when called upon.
"I prefer shortstop but I feel I can play any position," said Murphy. "I think you can do that if you come up as a shortstop."
It also helps if you possess speed and Murphy has plenty of that. Known for his bunt hits in high school, he still gets more than his share of infield hits. He's 13 for 13 in stolen base attempts and, when in the outfield, tracks down everything, according to Night Owls coach Paul Sartori.
"He's the fastest guy we've got," said Sartori. "If baseball wasn't his sport of choice, I'm convinced some track coach would love to have him on his team."
Murphy actually considered running indoor track while at Pinkerton before deciding to focus on baseball year-round. It's a decision he's not sure was correct.
"I do kind of regret not trying (indoor) track," said the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Murphy. "I think I would have been a good sprinter. And I know they have good track coaches (at Pinkerton), so they probably could have worked on my form and I'd have (even) more speed."
Still, speed is certainly no problem for Murphy and he's shown he can hit for average which, along with his speed and on-base percentage, is why he bats leadoff for both Saint Joseph's and the Night Owls.
His defense, however, has been less consistent. He struggled at St. Joe's as a freshman, making 13 errors and fielding just .901. But this spring, he was charged with just seven miscues and fielded .953, a move in the right direction and one he wants to continue.
"My freshman year (at Saint Joseph's), I wasn't as confident in my fielding — I'm not sure why — but I felt better this year and felt everything was coming together," said Murphy, who is majoring in business and sports management.
"(This summer) I just want to keep getting better at fielding, I'm trying get bigger to give me more power and I want to help my team (Night Owls) anyway I can."
Thus far, those goals are more than being met. Just ask Sartori, whose club has been at or near the top of the North Shore Baseball League all summer.
"Joey lets his actions and results speak for themselves," said Sartori. "He's modest and humble but I'm not sure where we would be (record wise) without him. Joey is the catalyst on our team in the lead off spot."
For his part, Murphy feels he'll be a better player next year because of his time with the Night Owls this summer. Because of an injury and complications signing on with the desired team, he didn't play baseball the last two summers.
"I think I would have done better if I had played summer ball (the last two years)," he said. "With baseball, the best thing is to keep playing."
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.