DANVERS — Add two more names to the ever-growing list of college commits on the St. John’s Prep baseball team. Earlier this month, seniors Richie Williams and Brady O’Brien announced their plans to continue their careers at Division I Maine and Division III Colby, respectively.
Williams and O’Brien raise the count to nine Eagles on the current roster who’ve announced their college commitments.
“It just displays the hard work that everybody puts into the St. John’s Prep baseball organization, and that includes the players and coaches,” Williams said. “It’s a combination of hard working people. If you ever come to one of our practices, you’ll see us working hard to get better every day. If you do that, you’re going to produce a lot of players that are ready to play in college.”
“We’re still the same guys,” O’Brien said. “The commitments don’t change anything. We have guys that can play and compete at a high level. I think we have another shot at making a run toward a state title this upcoming year.”
Williams, an outfielder from Georgetown, also garnered interest from Salve Regina, Endicott, Eckerd, Lafayette and Tufts. When it was all said and done, he felt Maine gave him the best option to compete at the highest level.
“The idea that I could play Division 1 baseball at the level Maine does was great for me,” Williams said. “They open up against LSU this year. Not many teams up here can say that. The other factor was financial. My final two were Tufts and Maine. I was trying to find the best fit for me and my family. Maine ended up being the right place in all aspects.”
Williams visited Maine’s campus earlier this month.
“When I thought of University of Maine I thought of the forests and some place in the middle of nowhere,” Williams, who plans to major in economics, said. “When I got up there it felt like home. The direction of the program, the competition they play. The most important part was the facilities. Just having access to those facilities 24/7 to know I can get better. Being in that environment, there’s also that potential draft option. I know I can pursue my dream at Maine. It’s the right fit for my goals.”
A broken collarbone sidelined Williams through the closing stretch of his junior season this past spring. He posted a .309 batting average with eight RBI but sat out his team’s Division 1A ‘Super 8’ run. Now back at full strength, Williams has high aspirations for his upcoming senior campaign.
“We’re all looking for a ring,” Williams said. “That elusive ring follows you everywhere you go when you’re a part of this program. We always have a talented team on paper and we haven’t won. It’s a shame because we have the capabilities. I think this senior class has the best chemistry on the team. We all have that common goal and we aren’t selfish. I think this is the year we’re going to win. Every player on the team is going to put it all on the line to get that ring.”
A North Andover native, O’Brien also considered Dayton, Bates and Bowdoin. He visited Colby’s campus in August, returned for an overnight in September and, after staying in touch with the coaching staff, knew joining the Mules was the right decision for him.
“I really enjoyed going up there,” O’Brien said. “I did an overnight visit and I was able to meet (Colby head) coach (Jesse) Woods and his staff. I really like the coaches. I thought they were great baseball guys. I felt that Colby gave me the best opportunity to succeed in college.
“I was looking for good coaching and really good baseball guys who’d help me continue to develop. I want to continue to progress through the ranks. I’m looking for a chance to compete and play right away.”
O’Brien took over as St. John’s third baseman midway through the 2019 season. He finished the year with eight RBI, one home run and a .275 batting average.
With his future plans no longer lingering on his shoulders, O’Brien can gear his attention toward his senior season.
“It’s nice and relieving,” O’Brien said. “It’s stressful but now that I know where I’m going I can just focus on my academics. Once the season rolls around, it’s all about hitting the gym and working toward bringing home a state championship.”
O’Brien credited his coaches and family for making his college commitment possible.
“(St. John’s head) coach (Dan) Letarte, (assistant) coach James Baker and Coach BJ Weed helped me a lot,” O’Brien said. “They played a big role in helping me find my way to college. My family supported me a ton as well.”