This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.06/13/2023 12:13 PM
Sometimes natural talent is prevalent, whether that be in a sport or other activity. The Westbrook baseball team, despite having a tough spring in which they finished the season 4-16, found that natural talent.
Freshman Kyle Leandri played shortstop for the Knights this season and earned Second Team All-Shoreline honors, quickly becoming one of the best players the program has to offer.
“I honestly think it was a complete honor to be named to Second Team,” says Kyle. “I think that I deserved it and my teammates also really helped me with this. This was awesome to see the work I was putting in during the offseason was showing.”
The 15-year-old, who’s played baseball ever since he began tea ball at the age of 4, says that he always knew he would excel at the sport, but really discovered at age 12 that he could do something with his talent. Three years later, he proved that as a freshman, standing out in many ways on the field.
Despite the team not qualifying for the Class S State Tournament, Kyle looked at his freshman season as a humbling learning experience.
“Finishing 4-16 on the season wasn’t too big of a disappointment to me,” says Kyle. “I obviously would have loved to make States or Shorelines, but I’m just glad I got the right teammates. My freshman season taught me that there is going to be a lot of high moments and low moments when playing varsity and that you have to treat those moments the same.”
Westbrook baseball Head Coach Derek Hanssen was very impressed with the freshman and lauded Kyle for his immediate impact while pointing out the speed and power that he possesses.
“Kyle had an immediate impact as a freshman,” says Hanssen. “Even though he is young he was ready to contribute on offense from the first game. He hit in the lead-off spot all season and provided a spark to the top of our lineup. His combination of speed and power is special. He also helped to provide solid defense in the shortstop position. Our team really began to improve when our pitching and defense became more consistent.”
Kyle became an instant starter for the varsity squad, and Hanssen knew that he would succeed at that level. He drew comparisons to former players, such as Sam Grigo and Tyler Shamas, and said that the ball sounds different when he hits it compared to the other freshmen.
As a decorative athlete who put up impressive numbers for his squad this season, Kyle’s final stat line was: 424 BA, .525 OBP, 1.237 OPS, 28H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 29 R, 12 BB, 14 SB, and 6 SO. He had an impressive run towards the end of the season when he batted 26-47 with a batting average of .558. What was more impressive was he recorded a hit in each of the last 13 games to end the season, a streak he hopes to build off of once his sophomore stint begins.
Aside from his coaches and teammates, Kyle credits his success to his father Randy, who said that at the beginning of the season Kyle was hitting the ball hard, but right at people. He told his son to control what he can control, and his form will naturally come, which it did.
“I credit almost all my success with my hitting towards my dad,” says Kyle. “He has always been there working with me and supporting me to make me the best player I can be. We really worked a lot in the offseason together on my swing and I’m just really glad that it showed.”
As if Kyle didn’t impress enough on the field, he also shined in the classroom, too. Kyle earned a 4.0 GPA this past season and takes pride in his academic accomplishments more than he does his athletic accomplishments.
As Kyle wraps up his freshman year and looks ahead to his sophomore campaign on the diamond, Hanssen hopes to see him take on more of a leadership role and help his teammates to succeed.
“Kyle will be a team leader with his approach to practice and his physical abilities,” says Hanssen. “He sets a standard of effort and attention that is contagious to his teammates. His offensive and defensive talents also help to make the players around him better. The Shoreline Conference is one of the premiere Class S conferences in baseball. Players like Kyle, Tanyon (Champagne), and Ben Stosse will be important factors in improving our record. We will also need strong contributions from other young players to exceed this year’s record.”
Kyle has always possessed a go-getter attitude and is looking forward to leading by example and helping to put his team in a position to succeed in any way that he can, while also continuing to develop as a baseball player.
“I would love to be a leader on the team next year and I am certainly going to act as one,” Kyle says. “I never have been too much of a loud and rowdy guy on the field to lead. I have always tried to lead others by playing as hard as I can all the time and trying to get them to join in with me giving full effort. I plan on doing this next year to better my team’s chances at winning.”