New Nauset Coach LaBonte Expects New Brand Of Warriors Baseball

by Brad Joyal

NORTH EASTHAM – Brett LaBonte doesn’t want to waste any time.

The former Wareham High School standout is fully aware that first-year coaches typically inherit programs that need a lot of work. However, that’s not the case for LaBonte, who is taking over as Nauset’s third head baseball coach in as many seasons after replacing Doug Mason at the helm.

“I realize I’m in a unique situation,” LaBonte said. “Most coaches, you’re handed the keys to a program and it’s like, ‘Hey, you’re here to rebuild.’ I’m here in my first year and we have a bunch of guys that want to win. We want to go far.”

LaBonte isn’t a stranger to Nauset. After a stellar high school career in which he was a three-year starter and All Conference selection out of Wareham, LaBonte continued to shine on the diamond as a first baseman and designated hitter at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams before making his way back to the Cape.

During the school day, LaBonte works in Nauset’s special education department where he focuses on social/emotional and behavioral needs. He coached Nauset’s junior varsity squad last spring before replacing Mason ahead of this season.

“I think the brand of Nauset baseball is going to be a little different this year,” he said. “High energy, lots of senior leadership, and the bats are going to surprise people. From what I’ve been told, for a long time Nauset has been known for its fielding and pitching. The bats have been a little lackluster, but I think that’s where we’re going to shine this year, on offense.”

It helps that the team returns a core group of eight seniors led by right fielder Evan Archer, shortstop Keiran Handville, second baseman Ethan Beer and pitcher/first baseman Chase Beach from last year’s team, which missed the Division 2 state tournament after finishing with a 7-13 mark.

“Last year didn’t go the way that we wanted it to, but I can already tell from the first few days of practice that we all want it badly, especially the seniors,” said Handville, an Eastham resident.

Archer, a Brewster resident, said LaBonte has made an instant impact due to his energy and his ability to relate to the players.

“He’s got great energy and he cares a lot,” said Archer. “He really connects with us on a player level that a lot of other coaches haven’t in the past for me personally. I think that he really just wants to win.”

With eight seniors paving the way, Beer said the group is hopeful its experience will pay dividends in the standings.

“It changes every year, but we definitely have a lot more experience than a lot of teams on Cape Cod,” said Beer, a Brewster resident. “We definitely want to make the most of our last year.”

While the seniors will likely make up the bulk of the top half of the batting order, LaBonte said Beach will be a difference maker on the mound at pitcher.

“I’d have to imagine he’s projecting as the best pitcher coming back,” the coach said. “The [velocity] is there, but what I’ll say about him that’s different than any senior in high school that I’ve been around is how polished he looks in mid-March. It’s 86 or 87 mph but it’s on the black — and he’s got a great off-speed to go with it. I’m looking for him to win every time he steps on the mound.”

For Beach, an Orleans resident, the games can’t come soon enough. He said the team’s energy is what stands out the most from the first week of practices — everybody is eager to open the season at home against Bristol Plymouth at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

“Kids are excited,” Beach said. “Kids are bringing it. You can tell that everyone was working during the offseason to get better.”