Ready for an encore: McNamara takes helm of Newport baseball

  • Newport baseball coaches Scott McNamara, left, and Jay Blaine huddle up with the team at the end of practice on the high school tennis court in Newport, N.H., on March 27, 2019. The school’s baseball field still had a coating of snow on it and the team plans to work on grooming it Saturday after a few days of warm weather. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Newport’s Bryce Willey pulls in a grounder while running fielding drills with the team on the high school tennis court in Newport, N.H., on March 27, 2019. The team opens their season at home against Conant on April 8. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • First-year Newport baseball coach Scott McNamara leads his team in preseason practice at the high school in Newport, N.H., on March 27, 2019. McNamara is a Newport alumnus and has coached several teams at the school. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 3/31/2019 10:10:21 PM

NEWPORT — To Scott McNamara, baseball can be played successfully if your pitchers throw strikes, your batters put the ball in play and the defense makes the routine plays. This is the message the Newport baseball coach is trying to deliver to his team as he becomes the man in charge.

While McNamara, 43, maybe the head man for the first time, he has been coaching baseball at some level in Newport for a long time, including stints at the middle school and junior varsity levels. Most recently, he’s been the pitching coach and varsity assistant to Jon Hamel, who McNamara has since replaced as head coach.

The two guided Newport to a surprise run through the NHIAA Division III tournament last year. The Tigers rode from the 11th seed to the semifinals before losing in the semifinals to eventual state champion White Mountains.

“It was quite a ride,” said McNamara, referencing a late-season comeback from a 9-1 deficit at Stevens and two wins over Campbell and Belmont in the playoffs, games in which the Tigers were underdogs.

“He understands kids and is excited about coaching baseball,” Newport athletic director Jeff Miller said. “He’s old-school and respects the sport.”

McNamara is somewhat of a legend around Newport, having been a three-sport athlete who was eventually enshrined in school’s hall of fame. He also has been through a tough period off the playing field — he is a cancer survivor, having overcome Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I had my last checkup around Christmas time; all is good,” said McNamara, who is thankful to all his friends and family for their support and prayers. “It was a scary time.”

But all is well now, and when Miller called him and offered him the varsity spot,” it was one of the happiest moments in my life,” McNamara said. He’d enjoyed a similar experience years ago when then-athletic director Carol Dozibrin offered him the middle school position.

By no means is McNamara walking into an ideal situation, as graduation took away almost all of the pitching from last season. Luckily for McNamara, teaching pitching is his strength.

In JT Blaine, Newport may have one pitcher with some speed, but everybody else who pitches will be taking the mound for the first time and not throwing very hard.

“Pitching is an art,” McNamara said. “If we can get these guys to throw strikes and we can pick up the ball on defense, we have a chance. Defense wins games.”

With defense in mind, McNamara has been hitting lots of ground balls in practice in hopes that when the players see them on game days, they will be ready to grab them.

“If we don’t make the plays on defense, it won’t be because we haven’t practiced,” McNamara said.

One thing in Newport’s favor is the program’s numbers. Between the middle school and high school, around 45 athletes are out for baseball this spring.

“I think our recent success helped build up the interest,” opined McNamara.

“This town is excited about baseball, and we have the right guy for the job,” Miller added. “He’s the kind of a coach who is not going to panic even when his team is behind.”

Miller also added that he wants his varsity coach to be the boss man with all the programs in the school, which could include two teams at the middle school.

“That’s OK with me,” said McNamara, who currently plans on coaching the Newport junior varsity as well.

The Tigers begin their 16- game schedule with a home contest on April 8 against Conant.




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