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Avery Point baseball veterans will get chance to repeat final year

A much-needed dose of good news has lifted the spirits of the UConn Avery Point baseball team.

Especially the sophomores.

The National Junior College Athletic Association recently granted spring athletes another year of eligibility, meaning the Avery Point veterans' careers didn't necessarily end when the season was canceled after five games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Their mood has improved significantly, to say the least.

"Four or five of them texted me the same thing individually, saying that we have unfinished business," coach Ian Ratchford said. "That's the theme right now for them. ... For me, as a coach, that was cool to see. All of our guys were on the same page and wanted to work toward that."

All but two of the 12 sophomores on the roster this spring are considering returning for another year, Ratchford said.

Liam Milewski, a second-year pitcher from Old Lyme, plans on taking advantage of the extra year.

"I was happy to hear that we get another year," Milewski said. "I think it's big for all of us. It was great news. ... We're doing everything we can, most of us, to return next year and a lot of us are in good situations so we can return."

Not every player can take advantage of the option. It depends on each student-athlete's academic situation. Ratchford, athletic director Michael Kobylanski and Avery Point's academic advisors are working together to clear some hurdles.

"The issue is, because we are UConn, finding the right classes for them at Avery Point so they can come back," said Ratchford, in his first year at Avery Point. "A lot of kids have already fulfilled their requirements. If they haven't declared a major, they'd have to do so in order to take certain classes at Avery Point.

"We have three different advisors, so I've been on the phone and emailing back and forth with them to figure out the right plan for each kid. ... About 10 out of the 12 want to come back. Hopefully, we can make that work."

Sophomore Elijah Martinez of New London considered other options but decided he wants to play at Avery Point again next spring.

"I was thinking about going to Mitchell and playing there, but I'm going back," Martinez said. "If I can get classes, I'm going back."

For Aidan Brennan, a sophomore from New London, it doesn't make academic sense for him to come back.

"In my case, I've pretty much taken all the classes that I can at Avery Point for my major," Brennan said. "Technically, I could stay another year, but I would have to sacrifice my academics to do so. That's not what I'm really looking to do."

Brennan is searching for a college that will be the best path for him to pursue a career in physical therapy.

Losing the spring baseball season makes it a bit more challenging for him to find a new baseball home. College coaches won't get a chance to watch Brennan play in person this spring but can check out his recruiting profile and video online.

"It hurt me a lot," Brennan said. "This was really going to be the season to lay everything out on the line. You're either going to get picked up by another school, something that works for you, or not. That's what hurts me the most, watching the opportunity go down the drain as the season ended."

On the plus side, Brennan will have three years of eligibility remaining at his next stop.

The Avery Point players returning for another season are already putting the work in to prepare for 2021.

The Pointers believe that they're building something special.

"Our goal has always been to get to the World Series," Milewski said. "I think we do have a good shot at doing that next year with how all of our guys have been working. The team chemistry, this was the first year that it actually felt like a family. It's great that we're still going to have the culture next year with all the freshmen returning and a lot of the sophomores."

Martinez added: "I'm excited to come back, to be honest. We all see it as unfinished business. To be continued."

g.keefe@theday.com

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