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Notebook

Middleborough grad drawing MLB scouts

University of Hartford junior pitcher Sean Newcomb has attracted the attention of scouts from the major leagues.
Steve McLaughlin/Hartford Athletics
University of Hartford junior pitcher Sean Newcomb has attracted the attention of scouts from the major leagues.

Middleborough grad drawing MLB scouts

It didn’t take Sean Newcomb very long to attract the attention of Major League scouts.

As a freshman at the University of Hartford in 2012, the hard-throwing lefthander from Middleborough no-hit Yale for his first win as a collegian.

Word spread quickly.

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Now a junior, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Newcomb was unscored upon in his first three starts this season, striking out 23 batters in 17 innings. And he is listed among the top 50 prospects for MLB’s amateur draft in June, with a few mock drafts projecting him as a first-round pick.

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When Hartford held its annual Scout Day last September, every major-league team sent a representative to watch Newcomb work out of the bullpen. Scouts also kept an eye on him over the summer, when he pitched for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League.

“He has the stuff to potentially go in the first round,” said Hartford coach Justin Blood. “Scouts first took notice when he threw that no-hitter and they’ve been following him ever since.”

Newcomb, who was scheduled to make his fourth start on Friday, against Villanova, has a fastball that reaches 92-95 miles per hour, with the ability to occasionally hit 97. By contrast, as a senior at Middleborough High, he consistently hit 85. Newcomb has also developed a better curveball, which reaches 78 miles per hour consistently and tops out near 80.

“I’ve just been attacking the zone early, and my breaking ball and change-up have been working well,” Newcomb said of his early-season success. “I’m just working on my mechanics and trying to get more consistent.”

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Newcomb picked up his first win March 7, tossing a season-high seven innings in a 1-0 victory over East Tennessee. He allowed just two hits, struck out eight batters, and walked three. In his first appearance of the season, he fanned nine in five innings in a no-decision.

He has vastly improved his control since arriving at Hartford. As a freshman (2-4, 4.17 earned run average), he had 45 strikeouts and 38 walks in 45.1 innings. Those numbers improved to 92 Ks and 37 walks in 72 innings as a sophomore (5-4, 3.75 ERA).

Newcomb, according to Blood, is still developing his off-speed repertoire as he continues to mature as a pitcher.

“You’re talking about a kid who threw 85 in high school, and a year-and-a-half later is at 96,” he said. “It takes time to harness that kind of stuff. Every pitcher at this level is working through their mechanics and making adjustments.”

Newcomb was only lightly recruited out of Middleborough High and remains unnerved about how life has changed since then, and the possibility of being a top pick in the MLB draft.

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“I’ve been talking to some teams and I’ve been getting a lot of information about what happens once the season is over,” said Newcomb, whose mound presence is similar to Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester.

“It’s exciting, but I’m just concentrating on the season.”

His batterymate, senior catcher James Alfonso of Raynham, is also drawing interest from pro scouts.

“Only one team is going to get Sean,” said Blood, “but having a guy that people are consistently showing up to watch can benefit everyone. James is playing well and scouts are noticing. He might end up getting the looks he needs to play pro ball somewhere.”

Alfonso, who has started 142 games in his career, is batting .270 this year with a triple, one home run, and seven RBIs.

Sophomore Sam McKay of Weymouth is off to a fast start working out of the bullpen for the Hawks. The 6-3 righthander has a 2-0 record with a 1.13 ERA in three appearances, allowing just one run in eight innings, with five strikeouts, and one walk. The Weymouth High grad made 11 appearances last year, the last seven as a starter.

“He throws a ton of strikes,” said Blood. “He’ll probably work in the bullpen as well as starting for us again this year. He’s had some real good outings and throws in the mid-80s with a good curve and an above-average change-up.”

Braintree dance titles

The Braintree High varsity dance team won two first-place dance titles at the New England High School Dance Championship held in Bellows Falls, Vt., this month.

Braintree competed in both the jazz and pom divisions and captured wins in each, with judges lauding the girls for overall impression as well as style and technical skill, complimenting the girls on their synchronicity, energy, smooth transitions, and crowd-pleasing kick line.

The New England title follows undefeated fall 2013 and winter 2014 seasons for the Wamps, who have won nine state crowns. The squad, under the direction of Jamie Campbell, is led by captains Alex Dean, Meg McCarthy, and Claudia McHugh.

McHoul soars at UNH

Sophomore attack Laura McHoul (Westwood) has eight goals and 15 assists for the University of New Hampshire women’s lacrosse team. Last year’s America East co-Rookie of the Year had a season-high six points (two goals and four assists) in an 11-7 win over Connecticut, and duplicated that performance in a 12-3 win at Iona on Monday. The 2012 Westwood High graduate was one of only two Wildcats to reach double figures in goals (16) and assists (33) during her freshman season. . . . Freshman Mary O’Connell (Norwell) scored two goals and dished out three assists in Middlebury’s 12-4 win over Connecticut College on Saturday. She assisted on two early goals to put the Panthers ahead 3-1. . . . Sophomore Kane Haffey (Duxbury) scored a hat trick in Amherst’s 17-8 win over Bates and has 10 goals through three games, second best on the squad. . . . Bates senior midfielder and face-off specialist Paul Donovan (Norwell) won 9 of 13 face-offs and collected six ground balls as Bates downed Amherst. Donovan has two goals and a team-high 11 ground balls.

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