Thursday, January 21, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Marquardt Makes His Mark on the Diamond and the Gridiron

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Jake Marquardt enjoyed a successful career with the Yellowjackets’ football and baseball squads, earning the title of senior captain for both teams. This summer, Jake competed for East Haven in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association. Photo courtesy of Jake Marquardt

Jake Marquardt enjoyed a successful career with the Yellowjackets’ football and baseball squads, earning the title of senior captain for both teams. This summer, Jake competed for East Haven in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association. (Photo courtesy of Jake Marquardt )

After spending his first two years at the JV level, Jake Marquardt had an opportunity to become a full-time varsity player during his junior season with the East Haven High School baseball team in spring 2019. Jake was competing against two of his teammates for starting left fielder’s job. During the middle of the season, Jake started struggling at the plate and was sent down to the JV team for three games. However, when he came back to the varsity squad, Jake demonstrated that he was ready for the big stage and took over for the Easties in left field.

Jake’s return came in a game against Notre Dame-West Haven last May. Although East Haven took an 8-7 defeat, Jake turned in a huge performance that saw him hit two home runs and a double to go with five RBI on the day. Jake ultimately led the Yellowjackets with four homers as a junior and was then named one of the team’s captains for his recent senior year.

“It was a struggle, trying to fight every day to get your spot back. I spent extra time in the cages, taking extra reps and trying to get my swing down and improve my timing,” says Jake. “When I was finally able to show that I deserved to be on the varsity team and get my spot back, it was great.”

Head Coach Butch Johnson was pleased to see Jake earn his place on East Haven’s roster. Johnson always knew that Jake had the potential to make an impact at the varsity level.

“Jake is just a great athlete and a great leader. He’s fun to be around and enjoys the game for the right reasons,” Johnson says. “Jake really instills a good work ethic in the kids. He’s a leader by example and he, along with the other captains, made everything so much fun this year.”

In addition to improving his skills at the plate, Jake has worked hard to become a standout pitcher in East Haven. Jake started pitching at age seven, because he was always taller and able to throw faster than most kids his age. While playing for his father Richard at age 11, Jake began to find his stride on the mound and realized that he could succeed as a pitcher.

“Pitching really clicked for me at 11 years old. My dad was still the coach of my team, and I would pitch every single game,” Jake says. “I was doing well, because I was throwing fast. My dad would have to apologize to the other parents, because I always pitched, but they understood, because I was one of the better ones on the team. They said as long as I’m getting results on the mound, they don’t care.”

Jake has been working with a pitching coach since he was 10. Currently, Jake works with Brian Stone, who has been helping him improve his mechanics. Two years ago, Jake started throwing a slider to complement his fastball and changeup.

Jake was slated to pitch regular innings for the Yellowjackets in his senior year, although the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 season. However, even though he lost his senior campaign, Jake played baseball this summer by competing for East Haven’s U-19 team in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association (CEBA). Jake was one of the club’s top three pitchers with Gianni Mumford and John Crisci. In the play-in round of the Division II Tournament, Jake tossed a complete game with 10 strikeouts when East Haven earned a 2-1 win versus North Haven.

“It was great just having a final opportunity to play,” says Jake. “Behind the plate was Michael Streeto, one of my best friends. We have great communication on the mound. We know exactly what we want to do. I just went on the field knowing my team would make outs and we would get the job done. It was great to see everyone back together again, playing baseball and having fun.”

Jake also proved a versatile fielder during the CEBA season. Jake played every position besides catcher, second base, and right field, and never started at the same spot more than two games in a row.

Kevin Sabin, the co-head coach of the team, praises Jake for doing whatever it took to help East Haven win, while excelling at every position he played. Sabin says that Jake’s baseball IQ served him well on the ballfield.

“The one thing I have been saying about Jake—and I coached him a few times in Little League and Junior Legion—is that he is one of the smartest baseball minds I’ve ever been around. That kid is always two moves ahead,” says Sabin. “Jake always knows where the play is and what he is supposed to do. Stuff like that, you can’t really coach that.”

Aside from playing baseball, Jake had a great career on the gridiron at East Haven High School. Jake joined the football team as a freshman and started seeing varsity time in his sophomore season. Jake played both tight end and outside linebacker for the Yellowjackets. In his senior year, Jake led the Easties to their second-straight 7-3 record as a captain, ultimately earning All-SCC Tier 3 honors for his performance on defense.

While football and baseball are vastly different sports, Jake says that competing in each of them had big benefits on his overall athleticism. Jake will continue his football career at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts.

“The conditioning itself for both sports got me ready. Plus, playing the outfield for baseball got me more prepared to run during football, making reads on the football if it were overthrown or underthrown,” Jake says. “Overall, the tone of both sports kind of meshed together with running—switching your direction on a dime, trying to make a play out of it, reading the situations.”

Jake has been playing baseball since he was four. Football followed at age eight. As he grew up, Jake watched Boston Red Sox games with his family, rooting for players like second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Following a strong high school career in both baseball and football, Jake looks back and realizes how important the world of sports has become to him.

“It means everything. Sports is such a big part of my life,” says Jake. “I always grew up watching them and idolizing these players. Just to say that I played at the level that I did is a great accomplishment in my opinion.”


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