AP Baseball Featured on Local MassLive Content

Advanced Performance (AP) Academy continues to produce high-level baseball talent in Western Mass

By: Nathan Rubenstein

AP Academy and Founder/Director of Player Development Peter Fatse were recently featured on a piece for MassLive High School Sports highlighting the baseball program and it's growth at AP Academy. For the full version of the article, please CLICK HERE.

Niko Hulsizer wins 2017 College Homerun Derby

Morehead State's Niko Hulsizer won the College Home Run Derby on Saturday night, beating Alabama's Chandler Taylor by blasting 17 homers in the final round.

The event shared Hulsizer hoisting his trophy:

Niko Hulsizer, Moorehead State (KY)

Niko Hulsizer, Moorehead State (KY)


"It felt great," Hulsizer said, per Tim Perera of the Omaha World-Herald. "I really came out here to compete and put my team on the map and spread the word about our school. It's amazing. I'm still in shock that it happened."

Hulsizer, a sophomore outfielder, was a first-team All-American and the Ohio Valley Conference Co-Player of the Year.

"I tried to just relax and get in the flow all night and trust my body and my swing," he said, per Lex18.com. "This was a such a fun event, and it just shows that guys from smaller schools have power too."

For the full article on Bleacher Report, click HERE.

Almeida and Syner sign with Worcester Railers

Worcester Telegram/Bill Ballou

WORCESTER — The Worcester Railers are taking the family entertainment aspect of the ECHL seriously.

The city’s new ECHL team announced two more signings on Monday, and they are cousins — forwards T.J. Syner and Barry Almeida, both from nearby Springfield.

“They’ve played together at lot of stops over the years,” Railers general manager-coach Jamie Russell said, “and it’s more than likely they will play together on the same line here. They have a ton of chemistry with each other, and that’s the kind of thing that can help us get out of the gates fast.”

Both players are 28, and Syner, a forward, is five weeks older than Almeida, who’s a center.

Syner played four years at UMass, Almeida four years at Boston College. As professionals, they have played together at Hershey in the AHL, Reading and Utah in the ECHL, and at Val Gardena and Coventry in Europe last season.

While experienced players, they are not veterans under ECHL rules. Both will cross the 260-game threshold this season, but their status will not change until 2018-19. Their signings give the Railers three players on ECHL contracts, all experienced pros, but not ECHL veterans. Teams are allowed four ECHL veterans.

The fact that they spent last winter in Europe means that Russell did not get a chance to see them in action.

“I have not seen them recently,” Russell said, “but did coach against both of them in the college ranks when I was an assistant at Providence College, so I’m definitely familiar with them.”

Almeida is 5-foot-8, 180 pounds. He played for the 2013 Kelly Cup champion Reading Royals and was 4-2-6 in 15 playoff games.

He has a career total of 186 games played in the ECHL (67-71-138, 123 PIM), with a career-high 29 goals with the Utah Grizzlies in 2015-16.

Syner is 5-foot-9, 175 pounds. He also played for Reading’s Kelly Cup champs and was 9-12-21 in 22 postseason games. For his pro career, Syner has skated in 48 AHL games (3-5-8, 22 PIM) with Hershey, and 172 ECHL games (57-83-140, 163 PIM) with Reading and Utah.

Russell said that the Railers’ location just down the turnpike from Springfield absolutely was a factor in Syner and Almeida signing with them. With goalie Joe Fallon, who lives in Vermont, already in the fold, all three contracted Worcester players are New England residents.

Russell and assistant coach Terry Bangen are spending the week on Long Island where their NHL partner, the New York Islanders, are conducting a development camp. Russell will get an idea of what affiliated players might be coming this way and expects to make more progress on signing players to Worcester contracts, and some of them may not even be related.

Frank Vatrano, Local stars partner with Pics and AP Academy for First Step Hockey School

Courtesy: Masslive.com/Anne Maroon

WEST SPRINGFIELD - Anthony Sarno has a catchphrase: train local. The Springfield native feels strongly that hockey players from Western Massachusetts shouldn't have to travel to Boston or Connecticut to hone their skills. With some help from his family and friends, he's put that belief into action.

East Longmeadow native and Boston Bruin Frank Vatrano is the most recognizable name coaching at this week's First Step Hockey School, hosted at the Olympia Ice Center.

But players from ages 6-13 are also working with Longmeadow's Barry Almeida, who played at Boston College; UMass product and Springfield native TJ Syner; AIC graduate and Springfield native Austin Orszulak; and Longmeadow's Charlie Kelleher, who is committed to the University of New Hampshire. Almeida, Syner and Orszulak are playing professionally in the ECHL as well.

"Basically, we're just trying to give back," Sarno said. "All of us had some kind of success ... but the community here is so tight-knit, and it's important to us, whether it's the guys who are there or the guys who are up and coming, they kind of get to see what it's like to train."

A day at the camp is split between on-ice work and off-ice training. Sarno, who coaches the 16U Springfield Pics, partnered with the Advanced Performance Academy, which has locations in Palmer and East Longmeadow, to get AP's certified trainers to run the off-ice workouts. After skating inside the Olympia, players take to the parking lot to work through agility ladders and other drills.

Daquan Holmes Signs with Packers

Daquan Holmes is the newest member of the Green Bay Packers.

On Wednesday, the Packers announced they have sign Holmes and they also released CB David Rivers. Holmes played college football at American International College, a Division II school located in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Packers are now in the offseason and there’s a lot of work to be done to get ready for next season. Make sure you’re in the loop – take five seconds to Sign up for our FREE Packers newsletter now!

During his time at American International, Holmes recorded 168 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 34 passes defended and 14 interceptions. 2016 was Holmes' best season, posting 69 tackles, 10 passes defended and five interceptions.

Holmes was invited to take part in Packers rookie minicamp in May. He is now one of three rookie free agent cornerbacks on the roster.

2-AP Combine Prep Athletes Receive Mini-Camp Invitations

Daquan Holmes (Troy, NY) and Omari Manhertz (Bronx, NY) both received invitations to Rookie Mini-Camps after successful careers at American International College. Both athletes participated in AP's 12-week NFL Combine Prep Program this winter. Holmes reported outstanding times at his pro-day event recording a 40-YD Dash time of 4.44, Vertical of 36.5" and Broad Jump of 125".

New Haven Register: "Mike Olt keeps battling, just like his mom"

Olt is manning the corner infield spots and, as on Monday, playing some DH. He’s somewhat of a mentor to Rafael Devers, the Red Sox’ highly-touted third base prospect. Through 15 games entering Monday night’s action, Olt was hitting .214 with two homers and eight RBIs. But the numbers aren’t overly important right now. It’s about being healthy again and getting consistent at-bats. Everything else, he says, will fall into place.
“I missed pretty much all of last year,” he noted. “There are some things that are still rusty, but that’s part of the game. I love the challenge of trying to get back on track. Kind of a slow start right now, but that’s part of the game.”
Olt signed with the Red Sox in February after working out throughout the fall and winter at AP Academy in Palmer, Massachusetts, which is run by his former UConn teammate, Pete Fatse. He knew he almost certainly wouldn’t start the season in Boston, that it would likely be either Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket.

Full Article Here

Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed: Plates all four Arizona runs Saturday

Ahmed went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season and four RBI in an 8-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday.
Ahmed's three-run homer in the second inning gave the Diamondbacks a brief lead, but the Dodgers would even the score in the bottom half of the inning before ultimately pulling away later in the contest. The shortstop has historically brought more value at the field than at the dish, but he's off to a good start offensively to begin 2017, going 6-for-17 while appearing in seven games.

Article Courtesy of: cbssports.com

Christian Ferrara Joins AP Coaching Staff

The AP Academy would like to welcome former Syracuse Orangemen and San Francisco 49er Christian Ferrara to the Academy! Coach Ferrara is joining the AP staff for the fall of 2016 to begin working with all athletes in the Performance Center and come winter will spend time with athletes participating in our Football Academy.

Christian is a 2004 graduate of Syracuse University with a BA in exercise science. He was a four year letterman for the Orangemen and started 37 straight games for them at defensive tackle. Christian was also a two-time All Big East selection for football and still ranks in top ten for tackles for loss in Syracuse History. He still holds the record for power cleans with a lift of 437lbx2.  Christian was drafted in the 2004 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers in the 7th round and was there all of preseason camp and 4 games into the 2004 season.  After his playing days were over he decided to use his skills and knowledge he learned while at Syracuse and go into the personal training and sports performance field.  For the past 3 years Christian has been the head strength and conditioning coach at Central High School where his tutelage and guidance has helped Central athletics reach new heights and constantly contend for state championships.


"Christian brings a wealth of knowledge from his days as a high-level student-athlete. Having competed at the highest level on field as well as with a background in exercise science, will make him a great addition to our sports performance staff" - Peter Fatse, Director of Player Development

College Football: Week 1 Overview

AIC Football: AIC redshirt sophomore quarterback Kwame Jarvis threw for 205 yards and rushed for 25 on the day, while senior running back Marcel DePina had 18 rushing yards. Graduate student wide receiver Evan Graham had five receptions for 74 yards, and redshirt freshman wide receiver Ju'an Williams recorded four receptions and 67 yards. Graduate student safety Daquan Homes had 13 tackles and freshman linebacker Cyriacus Ibezim had 12 tackles in the strong defensive effort from the Yellow Jackets. Daquan Holmes led all defensive players with 13 total sacks in the Yellow Jackets 16-9 loss to Shippinsburg.

Full Release: CLICK HERE

WNE Football: The Western New England University football team opened its 2016 campaign with a convincing 26-10 victory over crosstown rival Springfield College this evening in the fourth edition of the Pynchon SAW Game at Stagg Field. Junior quarterback Anthony Service (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) accounted for all three of Western New England's touchdowns, completing 12-of-23 pass attempts for 144 yards and two scores to go with 90 yards (5.6 per carry) and one touchdown on the ground.

Full Release: CLICK HERE

Monmouth Football: Monmouth University’s (1-0) defense stifled a high powered Lehigh (0-1) offense while the Monmouth rushing attack pounded out 215 yards and three touchdowns as MU opened the season with a 23-21 win over the Mountain Hawks at Goodman Stadium on Saturday. Cody Williams was 16-23 with 1 Interception throwing for 198 total yards.

Full Release: CLICK HERE

Westfield State Football: Westfield State junior transfer quarterback Shawn Brathwaite threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns to lead Westfield State to a 34-21 win over Nichols College in the season opener for both teams at Alumni Field on Friday night.
Brathwaite was making his debut for the Owls after transferring from nearby Division II American International College.  He completed 22 of 36 throws and added 64 rushing yards.

Full Release: CLICK HERE

Assumption College Football: The Lead: No. 21 Assumption put on an impressive showing in its season opener, scoring 24 points in the first half and allowing just 13 points over the final 55 minutes of action to come away with a 45-21 victory over Kutztown on Saturday afternoon at Multi-Sport Stadium.

Full Release: CLICK HERE

ESPN Boston: Tank Walker and Coreese Everett leading Springfield Central together

  • John McGuirk, Special to ESPNBoston.com (Aug. 26th, 2016)

  • Full Release: Click Here

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- There are certain bonds that just cannot be separated.

Take, for example, the mutuality between Tank Walker and Coreese Everett. Not only are they related, but the two are the best of friends and have become one of the most daunting high school football combinations in the state.

We have seen outstanding duos perform their magic on the gridiron in the past, but few have meshed the way this pair has. Walker and Everett are Springfield Central's 1-2 punch, and their ability to work together will certainly resonate down to the rest of this team in their quest to claim a Division 2 State Championship come December.

Walker, a senior quarterback, has arisen out from the shadows of some fine predecessors to become the face of this mighty football program. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 180 pounds, Walker is an offensive dynamo who can move the Golden Eagles down field with his arm or his legs.

Last season Walker threw for 1,424 yards and 12 touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed for 399 yards, finding the end zone 10 times. Considered a pure athlete, Walker was also a lock down cornerback, forcing opposing teams not to throw in his direction.

Everett is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound speedster who runs a 4.40 40 yard dash. The wide receiver and safety made his mark a season ago, catching 25 balls for 524 yards and 4 TDs. Like Walker, he is also a nightmare in the defensive backfield as he registered 75 tackles, 63 by himself.

Both have gotten a few feelers from various colleges but nothing substantial as of yet. No doubt, they each have the ability to play at the collegiate level and will more than likely garner stronger interest once the season gets underway after September 9.

"Their penchant for football has helped both of them get to where they are right now," said Central head coach Valdamar Brower, who is set to begin his ninth season. "Athletic ability has never really been a question with either of them. They do a lot of things on their own time in order to get better. Anything we do with football here, you can be sure that both of them will be there."

Brower pointed out that Walker and Everett have also taken an active role as part of Attorney General Maura Healey's Game Change Program, which has partnered with the New England Patriots and Northeastern University, and enlists state high schools and student-athletes in an effort to curb violence, rape and bullying.

Walker and Everett are cousins and have now played football together for four years. During that time, the relationship between the two has been rock solid.

"Tank is my cousin, so that makes things a little easier," laughed Everett. "Ever since our freshmen year we have been doing everything together. Now, everything has just become a rhythm between us."

Everett played sparingly as a sophomore with the varsity team, primarily lining up at running back on offense, and landing a spot in the defensive backfield. Walker, who played some defensive back during his sophomore year, was not handed the reins to the quarterback position until last season. The reason being that Central already had a pair of prominent signal-callers ahead of him in Cody Williams (now the starting QB at Monmouth University) and Aaron Williams (playing at Monroe College).

"Tank and Coreese were able to practice with the varsity as true ninth graders," noted Brower. "That is not totally uncommon with our program but it is usually just 4 to 6 kids per year that do it and in some years, zero do."

He continued, "When Tank was a freshman, Cody (Williams) was our starting quarterback and I felt Cody was a great leader in helping make Tank a better player. As a sophomore, Tank was given the opportunity to compete for the starting job but Aaron (Williams) became our starter. That allowed Tank to see what to do right and what not to do at the position. It was a great chance for him to develop. Last year, he started off a bit slow but towards the end of the year I felt he became more of a finished product, especially during our playoff run."

During last year's postseason, Walker completed 20 passes for 476 yards and six touchdowns. The Golden Eagles won the Western Mass. crown but finished one win shy of going to Gillette Stadium after coming up short against Nashoba Regional in the state semifinals. Losing its season opener at La Salle Academy, Central rolled off nine straight victories before the Nashoba tilt to finish 9-2.

"The hurt and frustration of that Nashoba game doesn't leave you," Walker said. "Our motto here has always been play the next play. Sure there were regrets from the end of last year. I made some mistakes but right now, I am just trying to put all of that behind me and go out and play hard every single day. I feel like every year this team can go a long way."

"If everyone gives 100 percent all the time, then anything is possible," he continued. "I've never been a vocal person but the one thing I can do is lead by example here. I feel there is always more I can do to help this team. Since my sophomore year, I can say that the game has slowed down for me a bit. I am able to see things develop a lot quicker now. With this being my final year here, I feel that I need to do a lot of things better."

Said Everett, also a standout sprinter on Central's track team, "This team can definitely make it to Gillette Stadium as long as all of us stay focused on what we have to do, especially during practice. We have a lot of young kids on this team this year and all of them are going to need to step up. If that happens, then I feel we can get to Gillette. As a freshman, I looked up to the older players and watched everything they did. Based on what they did, I just tried to go out and make myself a better player. I continued to work out all the time and I run track which has helped to make me faster."

Brower says the sky could be the limit for Everett, noting his the progressions he has made to become one of the state's most dangerous receivers.

"He certainly has a lot of potential," Brower said. "Now we want to get him some leadership qualities to go along with it, especially with this being his senior year. With some of the hype he and Tank have been getting already, we remind them that it is still team first here. Coreese is developing into a leader and myself and the other coaches have spent a lot of time mentoring him."

Walker and Everett each agree that their steady incline as football players and upstanding citizens has a lot to do with the guidance of Brower, who, to them, is more than just a football coach.

"He is like a father to me," said Walker. "You can talk to him about anything whether it be football or life in general. He is always there for all of us. Coach Brower has created a strong brotherhood within this team."

Indeed, Brower understands all too well the adversities of coaching an inner-city program. A strong disciplinarian both on the field and in the classroom (he also teaches at Central), Brower manages to keep daily tabs on all of his players from and academic and behavioral standpoint.

"We need to have high expectations for ourselves here," he said. "Whether it be on the field or off the field, we can't have players do anything to hurt themselves or this team. If they are on the field then I feel that they can play the way they want to and be successful. We do have a lot of game experience but if any of these kids do bad academically or do something that is wrong then they will not have the opportunity to play Friday, Saturday or whenever we are playing. That is the challenge with an inner-city football program. All the kids here know what is expected of them. Our entire coaching staff spends a lot of time conversing that to all of them."

AP Athletes Erik Ostberg and Chris Starcun named NECBL All Stars

SPRINGFIELD, MA – The 2016 All Star game participants were announced today and the Valley Blue Sox will be sending five represenatives to Newport to this year’s showcase.

“We’re obviously excited for our players and the opportunity they’ll have to showcase their talents,” said Blue Sox GM Hunter Golden. “All five are deserving and we’re hoping they get the long look from pro scouts that they deserve.”

The All Star Game will be held on Sunday, July 17th at PM at Cardines field in Newport, RI. Skills competitions will begin at 1pm while the game itself will take place at 6:35pm.

This year’s Blue Sox All Stars are:

C Erik Ostberg (Hartford) – One of two local players to be selected to this year’s All Star game, Ostberg has been one of the Blue Sox most potent offensive forces this year, registering 25 hits in 24 games played. This year’s NECBL All Star Game will be Ostberg’s second in as many years – as he played in last year’s Future’s League All Star Game.

RHP Mark Washington (Lehigh) – Washington has been superb thus far for the Blue Sox this season, posting a microscopic 1.35 ERA in his first four starts. Washington has only allowed 16 hits in 20 IP this season.

DH/OF Hezekiah Randolph (New Orleans) – Not only will Randolph serve as the North Division’s alternate DH, but Hezekiah will also be taking part in this year’s Home Run Derby. He’s hit 7 doubles and 2 home runs so far this season and has developed a reputation for a charge in his bat, having taken part in the 2014 National Power Showcase in Miami.

1B Chris Starcun (AIC) – The second local player headed to this year’s All Star Game will be Chris Starcun. His 18 RBI’s not only lead the team, but have led the entire league the majority of the season. Starcun has also belted a team-high 3 HR’s so far this year.

2B Cam O’Neill (Holy Cross) – O’Neill has been one of the Blue Sox most consistent players in the 2016 campaign, posting a .286/.425/.457 line in 87 plate appearances. His .882 ranks among the highest among second basemen in the NECBL.

In addition, Blue Sox CF and Tennessee standout Brodie Leftridge is scheduled to take part in the 60-yard dash competition.  Leftridge as swiped 10 bags this season and posted a 6.45 60-yard dash time by Perfect Game USA in 2014.

Nick Dombkowski commits to University of Hartford, 'The Pitcher's University'

Featured: Brandon Chase | bchase@masslive.com

It's been quite a summer for Nick Dombkowski.

Thirteen days after leading the West Springfield baseball team to a state Division I title to cap off his junior season, the left-handed pitcher announced Friday his commitment to play Division I baseball at the University of Hartford.

Dombkowski finished his the season with an with an 11-3 record and a Division I-leading 109 strikeouts in 79 2/3 inning. He averaged 9.6 Ks per seven innings, pitched three shutouts and had a 0.87 WHIP. Dombkowski pitched in all five of the Terriers' playoff games this season and won four of them. His postseason highlights include a two-hit shutout of Northampton in the Western Massachusetts quarterfinals, a 10-strikeout performance in the Western Mass. title game against Westfield, and a one-run, four-hit, eight-strikeout complete game in the state final against Lincoln-Sudbury.

The University at Albany, UMass, Bryant University, Quinnipaic University, UConn, the University of Rhode Island and Division II St. Anselm College also expressed interest in Dombkowski. Hartford went 37-18 in 2016 with a 14-9 mark in the America East Conference. Dombkowski chose Hartford because of how the program develops pitchers.

"A lot of people call it The Pitcher's University because of how they develop guys," Dombkowski said. "They take a lot of guys who get overlooked. You don't have to be throwing 95 straight out of high school to be successful there."

Dombkowski features five pitches — a four-seam fastball which tops out at 88 mph, a two-seam fastball a curve, slider and changeup.

West Side's ace was also named MassLive's Division I Tournament MVP and to MassLive's starting nine.

Dombkowski will join three local products on the Hartford roster in the spring of 2018. Last season's MassLive Western Mass. Baseball Player of the Year, former Westfield star Chris Sullivan, hit .317/.415/.423 in his freshman campaign for the Hawks. Sophomore catcher Erik Ostberg, a Northampton native and 2014 Williston grad, hit .340 with 47 RBIs and was named First Team All-New England. Minnechaug right-handed pitcher Nate Florence committed to Hartford in August 2015 and he will begin his freshman season next spring.

Dombkowski liked Hartford because he saw the immediate impacts that Sullivan, Ostberg and other underclassmen made to the team.

"Seeing freshmen play, that played into (the decision) because I could help the team right away," he said.

Four Hawks have been drafted since 2014, including lefty and Brockton native Sean Newcomb as the 15th overall pick in 2014 by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Newcomb has since been traded to the Atlanta Braves organization. Hartford's most recent draft pick was third baseman Trey Stover, selected by the Kansas City Royals in 2015.

Seattle Mariners sign Steve Moyers

KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island's Steve Moyers has signed as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners, becoming the second member of Rhody's 2016 senior class to go on to a professional career. Following his mandatory physical with the Mariners, the lefty pitcher will be assigned to one of the club's minor league affiliates. 

A four-year weekend starter for the Rams, Moyers is Rhode Island's all-time leader in innings pitched (314.0) and career starts (49). His 252 career strikeouts rank second in program history while his 3.07 career ERA is good for eighth all-time.

The East Longmeadow, Mass. native turned in 23 quality starts over the course of his career, including eight starts with zero earned runs allowed. This past season, he collected six wins while recording 78 strikeouts over 96.2 innings pitched. 

A member of the 2015 Atlantic 10 All-Championship team, Moyers was twice recognized as one of the A-10's best starting pitchers and was recognized by D1Baseball.com as one of the conference's top MLB Draft prospects in 2016.

He is the second Rhode Island pitcher to sign with the Mariners in recent years as Tim Boyce was drafted by Seattle in 2010.

(Article courtesy of gorhody.com)

AP Named the Official Training Facility of the Valley Blue Sox

The Valley Blue Sox have named the AP Academy the official training facility for their club.
The Blue Sox have opened up their 2016 summer campaign with workouts at the Academy beginning this week. With college athletes from across the country, the Blue Sox compete in the NECBL, a premier wooden bat summer collegiate league. The roster currently holds players from the University of Texas, Belmont University, University of Tennessee, Xavier, University of Cincinnati, Murry State and more. The staff at The Academy looks forward to working with the Blue Sox this summer.

Local standouts Erik Ostberg (University of Hartford), Endy Sanchez (West Virginia University), Chris Starkun (AIC) and Tyler Lyne (Merrimack College), all having trained with the Academy, were featured in a piece by the Blue Sox.

News Feature:

Local Stars to Make Big Impact with Sox this Summer