Sports Person of the Week
Wallace Was a King of the Hill at Hand
Liam Wallace made his mark on the mound last year by going with 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA for the Hand baseball squad. (Photo courtesy of Liam Wallace )
Liam Wallace proved the epitome of consistency for the Hand baseball team. A starting pitcher, Liam had a breakout season on the mound by posting a record of 7-1 with a 1.91 earned-run average as a junior last spring. Now a senior, Liam and his teammates were poised for a big year in 2020 prior to the announcement that the campaign would be canceled.
“I didn’t know what to expect, as it was my first varsity experience. It ended up working out really well,” Liam says of his junior season. “I was so disappointed that we didn’t have a season this year, because we had a great team, and we all worked so hard to try and go compete for a state title.”
Even though last year marked Liam’s first go-round on the varsity level, he didn’t let the pressure faze him. Instead, Liam stepped up in a major way for the Tigers. A prime example of that came when Liam shook off a tough start to turn in a solid outing against Ledyard, which was the No. 1-ranked team in the state at the time. Hand went on to win the game by the final score of 5-3.
“It was only my second varsity start ever, and it was a cold, rainy day. They got up on us early, and I had a pretty bad start to the game, but by the middle innings, I started to get settled, and we began to come back,” Liam says. “It all came to a head when our shortstop Phoenix Billings hit a two-run home run on top of the garage roof to put us up for good in the sixth. Those guys were heckling me the whole game, and it felt good to get that win.”
Liam stepped on the ballfield when he was five and has been playing the game ever since. His favorite aspect of baseball is the competitive nature of the sport.
“To most who don’t play, it seems like a boring sport. It’s really not, though,” Liam says. “Since I’m a pitcher, I’m involved in every pitch of the game. I dictate the game, and I’m basically at war with the hitter, trying to get him out, and he’s trying to make me look stupid and get a hit off me. There’s a lot of small things that players do to get an edge, and it’s really cool to see.”
Tigers’ skipper Travis LaPointe has been coaching Liam since the right-hander was 13 years old. LaPointe commends Liam for working hard to emerge as one of the top players on the squad last season. Liam wound up earning a spot on the All-SCC Oronoque Division Team.
“When Liam was younger, he really didn’t stand out as a baseball player. He had a long way to go with his skills,” says LaPointe. “Toward the beginning of [the 2019 season], there were many players that were much better than he was, but by the end of the year, he was one of the best all-around players on the team.”
LaPointe adds that Liam has a quiet demeanor on the hill, but he likes the fact the Liam lets his pitches do the talking. Liam is quite effective when it comes to throwing strikes and forcing batters to make weak contact.
“Liam worked so hard during his first two years in high school. By the time he was a junior, he had emerged as our best pitcher,” LaPointe says. “You would never know how much of a warrior he is on the mound until you see it firsthand. Liam has a great sense of humor, and he’s one of the most efficient high school pitchers I have seen in my years as a coach.”
Liam and LaPointe have forged a strong relationship in their time together on the diamond. Liam says that LaPointe has helped him make great improvements throughout his career and credits him for much of his success.
“The relationship I have with Coach LaPointe is very good. He coached me when I played for him during 13-U travel ball,” says Liam. “He still tells me to this day that the improvements I made during that season were some of the best he’s seen. I credit that to him, because he’s put me in the best position to succeed with all the work he put in with me in practice. I’m definitely going to miss playing for him.”
While Liam is going to miss pitching for Hand, he’s looking forward to toeing the rubber for the baseball team at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. Liam has been focusing on pitching since the 6th grade, and it means a lot to him that his efforts are taking him to the collegiate level.
“I’m strictly a pitcher now. I try and throw and long toss as much as possible, and that has greatly improved my arm strength,” Liam says. “I’ve worked with a pitching coach [John Slusarz] out of Hamden, who used to coach in the Angels’ farm system for the last two winters, and he has definitely made me understand pitching better.”