Batting at the top of the order, Sean Cabaniss is critical to the University of Maine at Farmington baseball team’s success.

Believe it or not, he’s an even better leadoff man in track and field.

Cabaniss, of Vassalboro, sparks the UMF offense, He’s also sparked the school’s fledgling track and field program, too.

On the diamond, he sets the tone for a lineup that has scored 75 runs and propelled the Beavers to an 8-2 record. He leads the team’s regulars with a .421 batting average, is getting on base 46 percent of the time, and has scored 11 runs and stolen four bases.

The junior enjoys his role as table-setter and has devoted a lot of time to getting better at it.

“Any way I can get on is a way I can help the team out,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how I get on. We’ve got a lot of guys behind me that do a great job of moving me over and drive me in.”

UMF coach Chris Bessey said Cabaniss is the best athlete on the team but also has a thinking-man’s approach to the leadoff spot.

“He’s a very smart kid, to start with,” Bessey said. “He can do a lot different things. He’s got a very good swing. He swings at strikes. He’s very good at working pitchers. He’s one of those guys that gives you many options in the leadoff spot.”

Cabaniss not only works pitchers, but the fielders behind them. He’ll put down a bunt to lure the corners in, then hit a line drive past or over them. He has the speed to stretch routine singles into doubles, and believes being aggressive is important to setting the tone for the offense.

“It definitely helps when I can get on,” he said. “When I get on, other guys can get on, and it’s a chain reaction.”

Bessey called Cabaniss one of the hardest workers on the team, someone who has got stronger so he can hit the ball with more authority. He’s also become a smarter hitter so he can swing the bat with better purpose. Cabaniss credited Bessey with transforming him as a hitter by adjusting his mechanics to get him to hit the ball squarely with more consistency.

Defensively, Cabaniss is a solid corner outfielder with a strong arm who is also capable of playing virtually anywhere on the field. He’s played the infield and pitched in the past for the Beavers, and also is their third- string emergency catcher.

“He’s one of those kids you could put anywhere and he’ll survive,” Bessey said.

“I play where I’m told to play,” Cabaniss added. “It’s one of those things I developed in Little League and up through middle school and high school where as long as I’m on the field, I’ll play anywhere.”

Cabaniss takes the same approach to track and field. His senior year at Erskine Academy, he fell in love with indoor track. When he enrolled at UMF, the school didn’t offer indoor or outdoor track, so he and fellow freshman Josh Wynne collaborated to start UMF’s first track and field club.

Cabannis is the president of the club and also competes in sprints and jumps on the indoor track team.

Cabaniss and Wynne put in a lot of long hours demonstrating the need for a track team at UMF to school officials, and last month the school announced it will add men’s and women’s outdoor track and field as a varsity sport for the 2015-16 season. The club team already competes in the North Atlantic Conference, but can not factor in the scoring of the conference championship until next year.

“We wanted to make it a varsity to sport before we graduated and that’s what we did,” Cabannis said.

Cabaniss said he’ll still participate in track in the winter and keep baseball as his spring sport. As far as track and field has come in his time at UMF, he’s just as eager to help the baseball program grow into a strong contender in the NAC.

“It’s been amazing how the program has changed the last few years and I’m glad to be part of it,” he said. “Last year was our first playoff berth in a long time and we can be even better this year.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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