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Anglers Feature: Second-Year Players Flourishing for First-Place Anglers

by Chris Jones
Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anglers Feature: Second-Year Players Flourishing for First-Place Anglers
The Chatham Anglers are having a great season. They sit comfortably in first-place of the Eastern Division with a league-best 24-10-1, have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, and are well within striking distance of their first division title since 2001.

A good part of their success can be attributed to three players who returned to the Cape this year to don a Chatham Anglers uniform for another year.

"Through my experience as a manager, the majority of guys who come back for a second year are better," Manager John Schiffner said.

Infielder Dante Flores (Southern Cal), pitcher Tommy Lawrence (Maine), and reliever Jimmy Litchfield (UC Irvine) were all members of the 2012 Chatham Anglers, who went 21-21-2, made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round.

photo by Chatham Anglers
Dante Flores during his 2012 season (left) and 2013
season (right)
After batting for a .310 average with 19 RBI as a true freshman for the USC Trojans, Flores only hit for a .154 average with only eight hits, eight walks, and seventeen strikeouts, for the 2012 Anglers. Despite but was asked back by Schiffner for the 2013 season.

After dealing with a fractured wrist that caused him to miss part of his sophomore season, Flores came back to hit .256 with six RBI for the Trojans, and was a mainstay in their starting lineup.

"He was a starter for a great program, and you can tell he has that confidence of a starter now, and he has really ridden that to a great season," Schiffner said.

Flores has had a breakout season in 2013, and has been one of the leaders of the Anglers this season. He leads the team in hitting with a .339 average, leads the league with twelve doubles, and has also racked up 17 RBI and 12 walks. He will be the starting second-baseman for the Eastern Division All-Star team

For Flores, comfortability and familiarity has played a big part in his second-year success.

"The game really slows down after you have seen it before," Flores said. "The experience and the confidence that it gives you really helps you throughout the season."

Jimmy Litchfield only appeared in 11 games for the Anglers in 2012 and only allowed 13 runs with 17 strikeouts over 23.1 innings pitched.

After an impressive junior season at UC Irvine, where he had a 1.99 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched, Litchfield returned to Chatham on a temporary contract for the Anglers.

photo by Chatham Anglers
Jimmy Litchfield (UC Irvine) during his 2012 season
(left) and 2013 season (right).

Litchfield is no longer a temporary player, and has been one of the many important cogs in the Anglers bullpen. In 11 appearances, he holds a 4.29 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings pitched.

In his first season for Chatham in 2012, Lawrence held a respectable 2-1 record with a 3.55 ERA in 10 appearances (five starts), striking out 35 and only allowing seven walks over 38 innings pitched.

In the spring of 2013, after an impressive junior season for the Maine Black Bears, Lawrence was named the America East Conference Pitcher of the Year, and was named to the conference First Team. Lawrence set the school record for wins in a season as he went 11-3 with a 2.32 earned run average and struck out 78 batters over 104.2 innings pitched.

Lawrence was a late arrival for his second season in Chatham, but has become one of the best pitchers for the Anglers, and has become a big part of the starting rotation.

"Last year, coming from a small school, I did not have that much confidence coming in," Lawrence said. "I saw how well I did last summer, and the confidence of knowing I can compete with the best has really helped me improve this season."

In six appearances, including three starts, Lawrence holds an incredibly 0.77 ERA, only allowing two runs and striking out 18 over 23.1 innings. The only two runs he has allowed this season came on a two-run home run from Y-Ds D.J Stewart (Florida State), since then, he has completely shut down opposing offenses.

photo by Chatham Anglers
Tommy Lawrence (Maine) during his 2012 season
(left) and 2013 season (right).
For Lawrence, being a second-year player brings the responsibility of helping new players adapt to playing in the Cape League.

"We all come from good schools so we know how to handle ourselves," Lawrence said. "I have been through this before, so I sort of try and help them out."

Schiffner would also know the benefits and responsibilities, as he played for the Harwich Mariners during the summers of 1974, 75, and 76. He has seen many players come through his team during his 21 year tenure as Anglers Manager, and he knows the amount that an extra year of experience helps player in the Cape League.

"No question, the experience you have in the Cape makes you a better leader and a better player," Schiffner said. "Having that extra year really helps the players who come back and play for another year."

As the Anglers inch closer to the playoffs, Schiffner knows that these three players will play a big part in helping this team seek their first championship since 1998.

"These guys are leaders," Schiffner said. "They know how all of this goes, they have showed the other guys the ropes, and they are really going to be key to our success."

Chris Jones is the Beat Writer and Social Media Manager for the Chatham Anglers. Follow him on twitter at @Chrisjones_UO, and follow the Chatham Anglers at @ChathamAnglers.