May 5, 2010

Worcester Telegram & Gazette: "Leominster Runners Keep Lancers On Go"

Leominster runners keep Lancers on go

May 5, 2010

By Jennifer Toland, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Worcester State senior Ryan LaPrade always seems to be on the run. If it's not on the base paths, then it's chasing fires for his Web site, rlfirephotography.com.

Senior T.J. Magnell isn't afraid to take a chance on the base paths either. His aggressive approach actually cost him a few games last season. In a conference game against Salem State, he broke from third to steal home, took a hard step to slide around the catcher, dove for the plate, and ended up tearing his hip flexor.

"I was safe," Magnell said, "so it was good."

LaPrade and Magnell, former Leominster High teammates and Worcester State's standout double-play combination, have been two of the key performers for the Lancers as they close in on their second straight 30-win season and prepare for this week's MASCAC tournament.

"The season has gone real well and we've worked hard to come together," Magnell said.

Worcester State (28-9-1) plays at Framingham State at 7 p.m. tomorrow in a first-round game.

"Ryan and T.J. both play so hard," coach Dirk Baker said. "Now, the challenge for them as seniors is to go out with a championship."

LaPrade, the Lancers' four-year starting second baseman, and Magnell, the shortstop, have performed at the top of WSC's batting order this year. LaPrade leads the MASCAC in stolen bases, and has been successful on 21 of 23 attempts.

Magnell, meanwhile, tops the conference in runs scored, is third in hits, and 10th in batting average.

Defensively, they've been dynamite in the middle of Worcester State's infield.

"We've been together for so long, so there's a lot of chemistry," said LaPrade, who has also been Magnell's Babe Ruth, American Legion and summer league teammate. "We know each other, what each other is going to do, and we just play off each other."

Magnell transferred to Worcester State last year after two years at Bryant. He batted .330 last season while splitting his time between shortstop and third. He has started every game at short this year and has committed just one error in his last 15 games. Magnell leads the team with 15 multi-hit games and had a 16-game hitting streak earlier in the year.

LaPrade has been solid at second base as well, with just four errors.

LaPrade is a freelance photographer and his Web site features some vivid images. He submits and sells photos to 1st Responder News, fire investigators, police departments and insurance adjusters.

"My Web site is designed to show people all over the country the types of sacrifice and commitment that firefighters put into each and every job they go to," LaPrade wrote on the home page.

LaPrade is an auxiliary fireman in Holden and hopes to work for the Worcester Fire Department after graduation. He recently took the Civil Service exam.

"I spent a lot of time at the station with my uncle ( Leominster firefighter Scott LaPrade)," LaPrade said. "All kids want to grow up to be a fireman or a policeman, and I still do. I never grew out of it."