Thursday, December 31, 2020

Windham baseball star to play in college for University of Connecticut

Windham High School pitcher Brady Afthim, a
senior, signed a national letter of intent to play in
college for the University of Connecticut during a
special ceremony at Windham High School on
Dec. 18. From left are Brady's brother Bryce Afthim,
Brady's mother Shelly Afthim, Brady Afthim
and Brady's father Phil Afthim.
By Ed Pierce

Brady Afthim has dreamed of playing baseball in college and he’s about to make that dream a reality, signing a national letter of intent to play for the University of Connecticut.

Afthim is the first player from Maine ever to be recruited by UConn Coach Jim Penders and will pitch for the Huskies in the Big East Conference. He will fall under the tutelage of Huskies’ pitching coach Josh MacDonald, who has coached six All-Americans during his time at UConn and has had at least one pitcher earn All-American status in each of the past four seasons.

He said having an opportunity to attend college and play baseball in New England appealed to him and was a big part of why he chose UConn.

“I felt that it was the best school for me since I wanted to stay in the Northeast,” Afthim said. “I really liked Pitching Coach Josh MacDonald and Head Coach Jim Penders and I wanted the opportunity to play for them. I wanted to play for the best baseball school in New England and that’s UConn. I want to get bigger, better and learn more from my coaches about the mental side of pitching. I would like to eventually become a weekend starting pitcher.”

To reach this point in his career has been a long road. He started playing baseball when he was 5, playing Little League baseball in Windham where he was part of the Windham All-Stars that won the district title when he was 9 and then captured the state championship when he was 10.

“I played for the Southern Maine River Rats and was part of winning the EBL championship when I was 14,” he said. “I joined the Maine Lightning when I was 16 and played for their College Showcase

Up until playing for the Lightning, Afthim had played catcher since the age of 7, but Lighting Coach Ryan Copp saw his potential as a pitcher and encouraged him to transition to the position.

He knows so much from playing in high school and college himself and creates a good atmosphere at games and practice,” Afthim said. “He is also the one who helped me through the recruiting process.”

Afthim also credits his Little League coach Scott Butts, River Rats coach Shawn Humphrey and his family for his development as a baseball player.

“My family has been very supportive - my Dad, Phil, taught me how to pitch, my brother Bryce has been a teammate and is currently a pitcher at the University of Southern Maine and my Mom, Shelly, has been my biggest fan.”

Afthim says he’s hoping to play his senior season for Windham High School if they have a season not wiped out by the pandemic and says he’ll take away a few memories from suiting up for the Eagles and WHS Coach Cody Dube.

“Making varsity and being the starting catcher as a freshman is certainly something I’ll never forget,” he said. “Also, in my sophomore year, Coach Dube let me be the closing pitcher against Noble. It was the first time in high school that I was able to pitch since I was the catcher.”

Dube says that Afthim's desire for excellence has been an integral part of the Windham High team.

"Brady's success comes from his competitiveness and his drive to be the best he can be. Brady takes failure personally and transfers those emotions into becoming a better player and teammate," Dube said. "When you have the drive to be the best you can be I truly believe you can be successful in whatever you put your mind towards. Brady's work ethic and commitment will be the two key factors to his success at the collegiate level."

He said Afthim's love of the game is evident. 

"Brady approaches the game as a game, having fun and doing so with a smile on his face. He also understands the 'winning" mentality,' which I believe is one of his key reasons to be the best he can be; Brady doesn't like to lose," he said. "Brady truly loves baseball and loves to compete, when these are mixed with a strong work ethic it makes for an exciting combination." 

The thing Afthim says he enjoys the most about playing baseball is the sport’s unpredictability.

“The best team doesn’t always win the game and the game can change at any time,” Afthim said. “The
biggest misconception about baseball players is that they are not athletic. “This may be an assumption in middle school or high school, but if you look at college and professional baseball, you have to be athletic to get to that level.  People also say that baseball is boring, but if you understand the game, you know that it is not boring at all.”

Going into his senior season at Windham, Afthim has been honored as the best high school player in Maine by the website Stadium Talk in their feature “The Best High School Baseball Player In Every State 2020” and he has strong expectations for the team.

I really hope we get a senior season since last season was canceled due to COVID,” he said. “If we do, expect us to be scrappy, get some wins and get into the playoffs.” <

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