Shea Shines In the Outfield and On the Court for Valley
Brayden Shea has always prided himself on challenging himself with the sport of baseball in any way that he can, even if that means playing against competitors that are his senior. That drive and dedication has yielded him high stature within the Valley Regional High School program.
The senior right fielder, who also plays forward during the winter for the boys’ hoops team, was introduced to sports through his father. Brayden recalls that even at a young age, he always played facing competition above his age group.
Last season, after moving up from the JV ranks his sophomore year, Brayden was a solid junior contributor to a successful baseball squad at Valley that won 22 total games while being a Shoreline Conference Tournament runner-up and Class S State Tournament quarterfinalist.
For his final season, while the Warriors are gearing up for what they hope to be another deep romp through March Madness on the hardwood, he is also eager to get after it on the diamond and aid Valley’s push to the peak of the Shoreline.
“I love the challenge of baseball; it is a hard sport where you will fail most of the time, but it is a test for you to prove others wrong,” says Brayden. “I love getting better every day at it and the competitive aspect of it. Being a student-athlete can be tolling, but having great teammates and coaches to motivate you daily to do better is great. When you play against older guys, you play against guys more physically-abled than you, so you know you need to compete better to stay in the game. It also teaches you that you will not win all the time.”
Brayden bemoans that it can be lonely in his corner of the grass while being responsible for a ton of real estate, but the moments of isolation are all worth it when he makes that highlight reel catch that gets the team and fans roaring.
“It’s rewarding when you make the tough diving catch that makes the whole team proud. I want to make that catch for them, and I love seeing them happy,” Brayden says. “It is tough when you are isolated by yourself and you have a big range to cover. Yet it teaches you to stay on your toes, as it makes the game different because you are always adjusting to different hitters.”
No matter the campaign, the seasons of success blend one into another when it comes to going from between the paint lines and the foul lines, according to Brayden.
“Having basketball right before baseball helps me get physically invested, with basketball involving a lot of cardio. Mentally, it also keeps me focused with success carrying into each season,” says Brayden. “I have gotten better over the years with my speed. Mentally, I have gotten a lot tougher. I have dealt with a lot of adversity; I missed my freshman year because of COVID and went down to JV my sophomore year. But it made me give my best effort out there and helped me realize nothing is guaranteed to you.”
Brayden notes that the Warriors did have some tough league losses down the stretch of the basketball regular season, though as long as they stay the course and trust the process, good things can happen in the playoffs.
“We had a rough week in February with losses to Coginchaug and Haddam-Killingworth,” says Brayden, who averages four assists per game this season. “We have to stay true to ourselves and believe in our coaches. We know we are a capable team. We just have to have fun and see what happens because we know we can do well in Shorelines and states.”
Valley baseball head skipper Brian Drinkard explains that Brayden has the tools to be a fine utility player and patrol anywhere on the field, though he excels, especially when commandeering the grass behind the diamond.
“Brayden had a solid junior year for Valley Baseball as an outfielder,” says Drinkard. “He is an excellent defensive player. I believe he could play any position on the field; however, we like to take advantage of his speed and tracking skills in the outfield. He also contributed offensively with some big hits, including a two-home run game against Old Lyme. Brayden is a three-sport athlete, and he knows how to compete, and we are expecting a huge year out of him this spring.”
Regardless of how or when the basketball portion of his Valley career concludes, Brayden is ready and raring to go for Opening Day and working towards going out with an even bigger bang of postseason hardware.
“We all have similar goals and have set high expectations for ourselves,” Brayden says. “It sucked missing out on the Shoreline title last year, but it is one of our goals this year, along with having a great regular season and going deep in states. We need to put in the work, but we are not settling for anything less than that.”