The Day's All-Area Baseball Player of the Year: Ledyard's Ken Turner
Everything about Ken Turner’s youth and high school baseball career — the accomplishments, the command of pitches that belies his age — suggests he’s never played another sport. He’s too refined to dabble with anything else.
Besides, it fits with the societal trend of sports specialization, where kids (and their parents) forgo the multi-sport experience in favor of trainers, showcases, gurus and travel teams, all to hone a particular set of skills.
And yet this is Ken Turner who recently graduated from Ledyard High School as a four-sport athlete.
Football for two years, followed by soccer, basketball and baseball, illustrating that Division I scholarships and even the Major League Baseball draft is attainable by playing different sports.
“I think the thing I found the most is how one sport helped the other,” Turner said. “I was always able to keep my conditioning at a certain level and could use different parts of my body in different sports. There are certain things you take away from each sport, like how the footwork is different in each of them. I wouldn’t trade the experience of all four sports for anything.”
Turner leaves Ledyard among its most decorated athletes, earning all-conference honors in soccer, basketball and baseball. It is baseball, however, which is most part of Turner’s future.
Turner, named The Day’s 2019 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, will attend the University of Hartford and play baseball there in the fall. He had the option of playing with the Texas Rangers, who recently selected him in the 20th round of the draft, but has decided to attend school. He’ll be at Hartford for three years before he's eligible for the draft again.
“I just feel very comfortable there,” Turner said. “Comfortable with the people. After talking it over with my family, we decided that going to school now is the better option. I didn’t want to be that 23- or 24-year-old guy out of baseball and having to go back to school at that age.”
Turner was recently selected to the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II all-star baseball team and to the Class M and GameTimeCT all-state teams. He was 5-1 this season, giving up four runs with an ERA of 0.73. He also struck out 73 and walked 11. The numbers would have been even better had a back injury not sidelined him for most of May.
"People always ask me what I was like at his age," Ledyard coach Scott Chiasson, who pitched for the Cubs, said. “I was nowhere near this kid. Not in the same country. I didn't have a breaking ball at his age.”
The Colonels weren’t quite the same after Turner’s injury, however, losing in the ECC tournament and in the second round of the state tournament.
“I still think there are some positives we can take from the season,” Turner said. “We were the first Ledyard team ever to be ranked No. 1 (in the GameTimeCT poll). And after I got hurt, an amazing number of guys stepped up. There’s a lot to be said for that.”
Just as there’s a lot to be said for his legacy at Ledyard.
“Just a great experience,” he said. “With my dad (Bill, an assistant principal) there, I wondered if I’d get treated differently. I never did. I never got treated like anything but a normal kid. There are great people there.”
The Day's 2019 All-Area Baseball Team
Player of the Year - Ken Turner (Ledyard)
Infield - Jared Burrows (Waterford), Nick Calash (Montville), Manish Rane-Castrodad (Fitch), Eli St. Germain (Old Lyme)
Outfield - Nick Helbig (Fitch), James Laconico (Ledyard), Tommy Mason (East Lyme)
Pitcher - Ryan O’Connell (Waterford), Cade Walters (Ledyard)
Catcher - Ben Jerome (Waterford)
Designated hitter - Trystan Levesque (East Lyme)
Utility - Cadin Maynard (Waterford)