When David Barre thinks of the skills that make him a good baseball player, one thing comes to mind immediately.

“I know athletically I’m a pretty good dancer. I actually won Best Dancer at prom, so I can move my feet pretty quick,” Barre, who graduated from Waterville Senior High School last month, said.

On the dance floor or prowling the middle infield at shortstop, Barre’s primary position, quick feet are a necessary skill. Barre also saw time in left field, at first base, and on the mound in 2019, making just one error in 33 defensive chances. Offensively, he was outstanding, posting a .509 batting average, .548 on base percentage, with 19 runs batted in and 18 runs scored. In 53 at-bats, Barre struck out twice.

That season led Barre to being named Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Player of the Year. With that honor, he was a finalist for the Dr. John Winkin Award, presented annually to the state’s top senior baseball player.

“He put together a pretty good season,” Waterville baseball coach Russ Beckwith said of Barre. “He just went about his business and chipped away at it. His work ethic is one of the better ones I’ve seen.”

For his efforts, David Barre is the Morning Sentinel Baseball Player of the Year.

Waterville shortstop David Barre leaps to try and catch a line drive during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game against Erskine this past season in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

A two-year captain for the Purple Panthers, Barre plays with a loose mental approach that he tries to carry into everything he does. Playing baseball, singing in Waterville High’s production of “Grease,” or a goofy lip sync of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” with teammate Kody Vallee and Vallee’s little brother Avery, it doesn’t matter.

“If it’s not fun, I don’t want to play,” Barre said.

Nerves aren’t ever a concern, Barre said, not since he made a playoff start as a sophomore. Playing the parts of Teen Angel and Johnny Casino in “Grease,” Barre had two solos, singing “Beauty School Dropout” and “Born to Hand Jive.” After that, what kind of pressure can come swinging a bat or fielding a grounder?

“My mom always wanted me to do it, and I love to entertain people. Between dancing and singing, once I got up there, not much nerves at all,” Barre said.

Added Beckwith: “He always has control of himself and his emotions. That’s why both seasons I’ve been at Waterville, he’s been a captain.”

That’s a confidence Barre uses in his approach to everything. Take that lip sync extravaganza for instance. It came at a lip sync battle between the Waterville baseball and softball teams, and the video has made the Facebook rounds. There’s Barre on one side of the stage, with Vallee on the other, and Vallee’s brother Avery in the middle. Barre and Vallee pretending to sing Katy Perry’s “Fireworks”, while Avery joins them in their best dance moves.

“Right before we went on, Avery goes ‘Can I do it with you guys?’ Sure, man. We just tried to have fun with it,” Barre said.

Have fun with it is Barre’s approach to everything. Barre felt locked in at the plate all season. To stay that way, he gave up another one of his favorite sports cold turkey.

“I didn’t play golf at all because I didn’t want to mess up my swing. I got my swing down, and I wasn’t going to mess it up. I felt faster, stronger, and I was seeing the ball better all year,” Barre said.

Barre entered the season as a key pitcher for the Panthers. He felt like he was primed for a strong season on the mound after pitching 10 innings in the preseason and allowing just two hits. Barre closed the season opener, a 7-5 win over rival Winslow, but in the process, tweaked a muscle in his back, below his right shoulder blade. Barre made his scheduled start against Nokomis, but struggled.

“I could swing fine, but when I came over the top (to throw), it was sore,” Barre said. “After the (Nokomis) game, I knew something wasn’t right, but during the game it didn’t feel that bad.”

After two starts Barre describes as “awful,” Beckwith kept the senior off the mound for a week. He returned to throw well the rest of the season, finishing with a 2-3 record and 30 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.

Barre’s athletic ability made him a strong candidate to play a few positions when the Panthers had holes to fill. Barre saw some time in left field after not playing there since he was 12, and first base. His older brother Adam, a former Waterville first baseman, offered tips on how to play the position. As we know, Barre had the footwork, but had to learn how to position himself for throws across the diamond and how to pick low throws.

“The ability to move him around helped me a lot. Take him, as a senior captain, who hasn’t spent a lot of time away from shortstop, he didn’t complain at all. He did it with a smile,” Beckwith said.

Even with a willingness to play anywhere asked, Barre is still most confident at shortstop.

“I know if I get there, I have the arm to get them. I really don’t worry much unless I go to my backhand. On my forehand I have so much confidence. Nothing really rattles me,” Barre said.

In the fall, Barre will attend Bentley University. He made his first visit to the school on a cold day last year. It didn’t take long for Barre to realize Bentley was where he wanted to go.

“We got to the top of campus, and it’s a very hilly campus, and we looked down and I was like, ‘Man, that is beautiful,'” Barre said.

Until recently, Barre never considered playing collegiate baseball.

“If grades go well, I’ll think about it. Especially with this year. Going into this year’s baseball season, I thought not a chance. But I had a lot of fun this year,” Barre said.

Of course he did.

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