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Mansfield’s Wiseman making his mark on diamond at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt’s Rhett Wiseman can go long.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt’s Rhett Wiseman can go long.

At Vanderbilt, Wiseman evokes Jackie Bradley Jr. comparisons

Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. has created quite a stir this spring in a Red Sox uniform. Rhett Wiseman is causing a similar reaction in his first season on the diamond at Vanderbilt University.

Wiseman, a freshman from Mansfield who prepped at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols in Cambridge, is a regular in the lineup at Vandy, a rarity for a first-year player for the perennial Southeastern Conference power. Seeing action primarily as a designated hitter, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Wiseman is batting .234 with several key hits.

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The parallel between Wiseman and Bradley may be a stretch to some, but not Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin .

“We saw a lot of Jackie Bradley at [SEC rival] South Carolina, and he started as a freshman, too,” said Corbin, whose 29-4 squad has won nine games in a row.

“There are similarities between Rhett and a kid like Jackie Bradley Jr., who is already wearing a big league uniform. That doesn’t happen very often, and it’s rare for a freshman like Rhett to get on the field here, especially on a team laden with older kids.”

A lineup without much punch from the left side created an opportunity for the left-handed hitting Wiseman. While he would like to be hitting for a higher average, Wiseman has contributed six doubles, a triple, one home run, and eight RBIs.

His first collegiate round-tripper was a two-run, walk-off shot to beat Illinois-Chicago on March 3.

Wiseman realizes he is fortunate to be in the lineup as a freshman, especially behind three senior outfielders, including St. John’s Prep grad Michael Yastrzemski of Andover, the grandson of the Red Sox legend.

“I’ve been seeing some time as a designated hitter, and it’s nice to get in there however I can to help the team,” said Wiseman, who committed to Vanderbilt after his sophomore season at BB&N. “This year we have three senior superstar outfielders, and I’ve been very fortunate to be playing under these guys and learning a lot from them every day.”

As a senior at BB&N, Wiseman was the MVP of the Independent School League and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He holds several school career records, including stolen bases (74), home runs (31), and triples (24). He was drafted by Cubs in the 25th round of the 2011 Major League draft.

Despite his acclaimed success, Wiseman is in the midst of a major learning curve adjusting to Division 1 college baseball.

“You come in as a freshman and it’s pretty much about learning your role,” he said.

“The intensity of the lifestyle and balancing school is difficult, and bringing your best every day is definitely something I had to get used to. I wasn’t used to getting in the cage every day and hitting for two hours and then lifting for an hour and then having a full practice. So finding a routine that works for me was important.”

Wiseman will continue to work on all parts of his game, focusing on nuances like bunting and moving runners along, learning to read balls in the dirt, developing his power, and improving his arm strength.

“At this point it’s about learning and getting better every day,” said Wiseman, who shrugs off comparisons to Bradley and Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

“To see a guy like Bradley, who breaks his wrist in his junior year and then comes out and has such an impact in the College World Series for South Carolina, is amazing. Then to be a first-round pick and just fly right through the Red Sox organization is a pretty incredible thing.”

UMD’s McNamara produces video

It’s been an exciting few weeks for Stoughton High graduate Will McNamara. A sophomore wide receiver on the football team at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, he was one of 12 Corsairs named to the New England Football Conference All-Academic squad. Last week the UMD athletic department released a new promotional video produced and directed exclusively by McNamara.

The 60-second video features UMass Dartmouth student-athletes during training sessions, focusing on a quote by UCLA coaching legend John Wooden: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

McNamara is a graphic design major in UMD’s College of Visual Arts. He spent about 50 hours producing the video over the course of a month.

“I can’t say enough about the work of Will McNamara on this project,” said UMass Dartmouth AD Ian Day. “The video is excellent, and in just about a minute it portrays the dedication and hard work of our more than 500 student-athletes on campus.” The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWdSJi8ia48.

John Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.

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