By: Christian Rodriguez
Co-captain of Sacred Heart’s baseball team, Cody Doyle, has been added to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List. This award is presented by BaseballSavings.com, which recognizes the top Division I catcher in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The award is named after the Hall of Fame major league catcher, Johnny Bench. Bench was a 10-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion with the Cincinnati Reds. During the 1970s when Bench was on the Reds, they were nicknamed the “Big Red Machine,” due to their domination in the National League.
Doyle is in his final season at Sacred Heart. He has started in over 100 games and has driven in 41 runs in his career. He has thrown out 49 runners marking a 38.5% caught stealing percentage.
“It was exciting to get the nomination,” said Doyle. “You work pretty hard and any recognition you get is pretty good, but at the same time I don’t think it means too much you know, I just have to keep playing well and working hard.”
The Avon, Conn. native knows that getting added to the Watch List is an appreciation of his hard work this season and throughout his career.
“He’s such a professional in the way he goes about his business and about coming to practice every day and games,” said head coach Nick Restaino. “He’s just well-prepared whether it’d be physically, mentally, or with scouting reports. He’s certainly earned the right to be nominated by the best guys in the country.”
Doyle is also highly praised and respected amongst his teammates. The pitchers know that they can count on Doyle in order for them to throw the right pitch.
“Cody is a guy that we look to as a leader both on and off the field,” said junior pitcher John Cerretani. “Our entire pitching staff knows that with him behind the plate, he’s giving whoever is on the mound the best chance of being successful. Whether it’s pitch calling or his defense, he’s your guy.”
The competitive mentality is nothing new for Doyle. He attended Avon Old Farms School [high school] and during his time there he played baseball, ice hockey, and football.
“I was well prepared from playing baseball and other sports at Avon. There were really good coaches and players which prepared me well, so the jump to college wasn’t too bad. Avon does a good job of creating a college-like atmosphere,” said Doyle.
The senior catcher has had big plays and moments that have stood out for him in his time at Sacred Heart.
“Winning the NEC tournament my freshman year has to be the best memory for me and for most of the guys in my class,” said Doyle. “We’ve had some good moments since but I think that’s kind of our goal every year and I think that’s something we’re striving to do again this year.”
Restaino has been on the team as the assistant coach for the past three seasons before taking over as the head coach for this season. He has seen Doyle grow over his four years.
“He’s probably one of the best kids I’ve coached,” said Restaino. “If you put him in a Major League spring training right now and ran him out there, he would probably take two or three at-bats before anybody would realize he’s a college kid. He could really catch at that level.”