WALLINGFORD — Jake Mackenzie of Wallingford has put the wraps on an outstanding year of baseball.
The freshman shortstop out of Choate exploded onto the scene this spring with a Rookie of the Year season at Fordham University. His torrid college campaign carried into an even bigger showing in the Hamptons Collegiate League and ended with a call-up to the prestigious Cape Cod League.
In between, Mackenize helped DiamondZone win the Wallingford Twilight League championship.
All this one year after graduating from Choate.
Coming out of Choate, Mackenzie had multiple Division I college offers. He chose Fordham for many baseball and non-baseball reasons.
“I thought it just felt like the best fit for me,” Mackenzie said. “Academics were a big part of my decision, I liked the idea of being in the city and having potential internship possibilities with that.
“I also really liked the coaching staff. I thought they left a really good impression on me.”
In his first game, Mackenzie made an impression of his own against Evansville. The rookie went 2-for-4 and blasted a three-run homer.
Although the power was there, Mackenzie initially struggled to adjust to Division I competition. At one point, he was hitting under .200. Then Mackenzie made an adjustment at the plate that turned his season around.
“I held my hands up higher and shortened my swing,” said Mackenzie. “This helped me be quicker to the ball and I didn’t lose any power from this. I was still getting extra-base hits, but I was also making a lot more solid contact.”
In back-to-back weekends in April, Mackenzie went on a tear against URI and LaSalle. He had six hits in the series against Rhode Island and he had two home runs against LaSalle. Overall, was a one-man army in each series.
That was the turning point. Mackenzie stayed hot the rest of the season, finishing with a .291/.389/.523 slash line. He hit eight home runs, stole 34 bases and drove in 42 runs.
Mackenzie’s monster freshman year did not go unnoticed. He was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American Team, among several other awards.
“I wasn’t expecting to receive so many awards,” he said. “That’s not why I play or work so hard, but it definitely an honor and a validation of my season. Going forward, it’s also something to strive for to do better than what I did to receive these awards.”
Following his college season, Mackenzie’s success carried him to the East End of Long Island. Playing with the Shelter Island Bucks in the Hamptons Collegiate League, Mackenzie blasted 11 home runs and hit .350.
His dominance led to Mackenzie being called to play in the Cape Cod League. In a brief showing for the Bourne Braves, Mackenzie went 4-for-14 at the plate.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Mackenzie. “Being on the field with the best college players in the country was a surreal experience and I can’t wait to be back here next year.”
Mackenzie has aspirations for improving his craft and one day being drafted by a Major League team. His achievements this year have certainly put him on the map. In 2019, he’ll look to top his freshman season at Fordham and he’ll also have a chance to show what he can do over a full season in the Cape Cod League.