We saved one of the best at Mashpee High School for last this year with the Outside The Lines. Senior Willie Baker has had a great career at MHS on the ballfield, one that could lead to a college career at Georgetown, as a walk-on, if things break well for him.
Willie B, as he is known around campus, is the type of person who draws people in with his warm personality, thoughtfulness and kindness. The all-star, who also plays for American Legion Post 188 and has had stints with Mashpee’s soccer and basketball teams, is one of the top students, as well as athletes, in the MHS Class of 2021.
The son of Conni and Bill Baker has reached the level of Eagle Scout and was named the Roger Scudder Sportsmanship Award winner this year. He said that Spanish is his favorite subject in school, and that his most-prized possession is his baseball glove.
Willie’s favorite meal is a good cheeseburger with fries and a lemonade, and anything chocolaty for dessert, especially cookie dough ice cream. His favorite movie is “The Sandlot,” and “MLB Central” is his favorite TV show. He is a big fan of Drake’s music as well.
How did you get involved with baseball? How much do you enjoy it? What is your role on the team?
I fell in love with the game playing T-ball and wiffle ball when I was young, and baseball has always been a part of my life. It is a passion of mine and something I want to stay involved in throughout my life. My role on the team is as a utility player, helping out wherever I’m needed at whatever position I can fill. In my my Mashpee career I have played at every position so far except shortstop, so I try my best to bring versatility to the table whenever I can.
You’re primarily an outfielder on the Mashpee team, but recently struck out 16 against Hull as a starting pitcher. Looking back, what were the keys to the game that day for you, and why do you think you were so successful?
I think we were so successful that day because Gavin (Lakatos) called a great game behind the plate, and the command I had over both the fastball and the slider allowed me to execute the pitches I needed to from the first inning to the last.
The playoffs will begin soon. What do you think the Falcons’ chances are in the postseason, and what will it take to reach the full potential?
I believe we can make a deep run in the playoffs this year with the talent we have in our dugout. When we all stay locked in for all 21 outs, we can compete with anybody we’re matched up against, and I am excited about our chances.
You played soccer and basketball at MHS as well. What will you remember most about those experiences?
I loved playing soccer and basketball at MHS, and my biggest takeaways from soccer are my few stints as goalie and ending with a great game on our senior night against Falmouth last season. For basketball, playing tournament games in Taunton and at TD Garden are some of my favorite memories.
How have you worked to improve your skills as a player over the years? How do you feel about your game?
I have always worked to be the best player I can be. From hitting into a pop-up net in my backyard, to staying late after practice, to dedicating the winter of my junior year to getting stronger and preparing myself to try and play at the next level. I feel like I have come a long way over the last year, both physically and mentally, and that there are still ways I can improve to become a more complete player.
What do you think a scouting report would say about you?
I believe the scouting report on me would say that I am consistent and that I always give 100 percent effort into everything I do. I think it would say that if I am confident and not overthinking the game, that there isn’t very much that can slow me down. Finally, it would say that I am a team player.
If you could replay one game that you have played in, which one would it be? Why?
If I could replay one game, I would want to play again in the South Sectional Semifinal game against St. John Paul II in Plymouth. I would want another chance to extend our last pre-COVID season and perhaps fulfill the potential that special team had of winning a state championship.
What do you consider the highlight of your athletic career so far?
Along with the recent 16 strikeout pitching performance, I would say the highlight of my athletic career so far would be hitting a home run my sophomore year to help us win our playoff game at West Bridgewater.
Who is the best teammate that you’ve ever played with? What makes that person stand out?
I have had many great teammates and have gotten a lot out of each player I’ve been fortunate enough to play with. I particularly enjoyed playing with Kyle Puchol, whom I had looked up to as a middle schooler on the JV team and then again as varsity players. We not only challenged each other to be better on the ballfield, but also became lifelong friends in the process.
Do you have any sports-related superstitions? If so, what are they?
I have made an event out of jumping over the foul line coming on and off the field every game. Most people don’t know, but I do it every practice as well, even when there are no fans there to see it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?
One of the most important things I’ve learned from playing sports are that hard work pays off, and to never give up, no matter how difficult things might seem. I’ve found that sports are often analogous to life, and there are many lessons I learn from sports that I try to apply to the rest of my life.
Was there anything that you accomplished or worked on improving during quarantine that you’re proud of?
During quarantine, aside from getting my school work done, I spent a lot of time exercising and weight lifting, and taught myself how to play the piano, which has been fun.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
I would like to thank my Mom and Dad, my sisters Cassie and Lauren, and the rest of my family for all that they have done in making me who I am today, for attending my games and supporting me throughout the years. I’d also like to thank all of my friends, particularly Ben, Nathan, Gabe, Caroline, and Bridget for always being there for me and always making life way more fun. I also want to thank all of my teammates and coaches, including Coach Patenaude, Coach DuBerger, Coach Clark, and Coach Furtek, for all of the lessons I have been able to learn from you on the field, and for the lifelong lessons off the field as well. I love you all, and I will always try my best to make you all proud.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited? Is there somewhere in the world that you’ve always dreamed of going? Why?
The most interesting place I’ve ever visited was Tulum, Mexico. Staying in an Airbnb in a residential neighborhood with our moderate control over the Spanish language allowed us to feel truly immersed in the country and culture, which was awesome. I would love to travel the world and experience an African safari and visit the island coastline of Greece.
What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?
Senior me is more confident than freshman me, and I would let freshman me know that working hard and staying focused will pay off. I would tell freshman me not to forget to have fun with it all. I would say to myself to learn from the past, plan for the future, but always live in the present.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
One thing people might not know about me is that I don’t drink soda; I’ll typically have a lemonade or Gatorade instead.
If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?
I would want to trade places with a Major Leaguer, like Mookie Betts, so that I can experience what life is like for an everyday player. I’d love to see what it’s like, not only playing in the games, but all the other intricate parts of daily life that ballplayers and professional athletes experience on a day-to-day basis.
Describe your idea of the perfect day.
A perfect day would start with a big breakfast of my grandmother’s waffles when I wake up around 7:30ish. Then, I would link up with my friends to go to the beach for the morning; we’d hang out and swim, and I would go back home to change into my uniform and go to the ballfield for a baseball game. After the game, my friends and I would go out for dinner to a Mexican restaurant, and then go back to one of our houses to hang out and have a big bonfire.
What are your post high school plans?
After high school, I will be attending Georgetown University in the fall. I have been accepted into the McDonough School of Business, where I currently plan on studying management, while minoring in Spanish and journalism. I will also be attempting to walk on to the baseball team there.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I imagine myself traveling the country, covering sports as a journalist or a broadcaster, covering baseball or whatever sport is in season.