Westport High’s Jake Friar signed a letter of intent to study and play baseball at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. That signing not only lands Sacred Heart a powerful switch-hitting catcher who can also pitch and play just about every other position if called upon, but it also gets Westport’s soon-to-be valedictorian and the president of its National Honor Society chapter.
Jake was flanked by his parents, Michael and Maria, at the ceremony in Westport High that was also attended by Athletic Director Jay Pacheco, Baseball Coach Glenn Lincoln, Principal Cheryl Tutalo and Guidance Counselor Paul Amaral.
The Friar family has experience with such signings, having done so already with elder son Nick who is now a junior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Nick is a pitcher for the Northwestern baseball team.
Jake, whose final choice came down to Sacred Heart and Georgetown University, called Sacred Heart a perfect fit where he expects to pursue a double major in business and physical therapy. He is also going to a winning program — Sacred Heart is a two-time champion of the Northeast Conference.
Baseball coach Glenn Lincoln says Sacred Heart is getting an excellent player “and a top notch person.”
Jake has done it all for Westport’s small 11-player baseball team. A catcher, he also takes a turn in the pitching rotation. For the third game in a week, to give his arm a rest, they put him out at second base or some other position.
“He’s very bright, in the classroom and on the field,” Coach Lincoln said. “He can really read batters and has a great memory — when the batter comes around the second time, he’s ready for him.”
As strong as he is as a pitcher, it was his catching talents and bat (he hits nearly .400) that brought Sacred Heart to Westport for a look.
“He has called his own games since he was a freshman,” the coach said, a talent he developed working out with his brother Nick, a pitcher now for Northwestern . “He used to catch for his brother in clinics — the two of them learned together and supported each other.”
Coach Lincoln said he has also relied on Jake’s ability to get the most out of fellow players. “I’m a one-person coaching operation … He has really been my on-field pitching and catching coach.”
His playing smarts are balanced by a strong arm.
Coach Lincoln said that last year, Westport played a formidable out-of-division team whose coach told him before the game to expect his players to run a lot.
“I said, okay, I have a good catcher,” Coach Lincoln said. “The first guy who tried to steal, my guy threw him out. After that, they didn’t run anymore. His arm is very strong, very accurate and he has a great sense for when a player is going to try (to steal).”
Above all, Jake is a good person, Coach Lincoln said, the kind, “If I had a daughter, I’d be happy to see her marry.” He is polite, supportive of his teammates, and mature —— “like talking to an adult.”
He said he has been blessed to coach “Friars, first Nick, now Jake, for seven years.” With no younger Friars coming along, “that great run is almost over.”