, Salem, MA

September 11, 2013

Masco's Twiss to play baseball at UMass

By Matt Williams
Staff writer

---- — One of Will Twiss’ favorite pitches is the cut fastball. So, it only made sense that when it came to deciding where to throw in college, he decided to cut to the chase.

Twiss, a senior at Masconomet, recently gave a verbal commitment to throw at the University of Massachusetts. The Minutemen were impressed with his work this summer throwing for one of The Show Baseball Academy’s showcase teams.

“I had great interest in the school since last winter. I threw a bullpen for them and talked to them and they followed up in the summer by watching me pitch a few times,” said Twiss. “I got a call from them a few weekends ago and it was really exciting.

“I like everything about the school: The campus, the academics, the atmosphere, even without baseball it’s a school I would’ve loved to go to.”

Twiss was the regular starter at second base for the Chieftains last spring and helped Masco win the Division 2 North title and finish with a record of 19-6. Behind senior stud Speros Varinos (the Cape Ann League MVP), Twiss threw 31 innings last season; he was valuable in a variety of roles, picking up three wins and a pair of saves.

“Will kind of flew under the radar for us last year,” said Cheiftains coach T.J. Baril. “We are very excited for him. He had a great summer and is working hard this fall. We expect to look to him to be a leader in the spring.”

Twiss is the youngest of three boys and is following each of his older brothers to the college baseball ranks.

“My brothers played at St. Lawrence and Roger Williams. There’s a big age difference between us, 8-10 years, so even when I was really young they were teaching me stuff and I was picking their brains,” said Twiss. “Ive been spotting that ball since I was I don’t know how old. Basically my whole life.”

Location is a pitcher’s best friend and it’s the tool that Twiss relies on when he’s on the hill. The senior has been working out with Show pitching coach Jeff Allison this fall and is teammates with fellow UMass commit Scott Hovey of Danvers. His confidence in his cutter is a weapon, and that confidence to throw it in any count helps keep hitters off balance.

“Locating it for a strike is the biggest thing,” Twiss said. “Backdoor on a lefty or inside on a righty, or tailing it off the plate on the two-strike count — I can throw it any count.”

Throwing both the 2- and 4-seam fastball often fools batters because they have the same spin and rotation. A hitter identifies one, and when the ball moves as the other, they can’t make solid contact.

“Will has a lot of movement on his ball. Nothing he throws at you is coming in straight,” said Baril. “He is confident in pitching to contact and players have difficulty squaring it up against him.”

Twiss and the Chieftains have just begun some fall baseball and they’re already looking forward to the spring. Though some key seniors graduated, they have several starters back and want to build on last year’s impressive playoff run.

“We’re hungry and we’re not satisfied,” said Twiss. “We had some great role models last year and want to build on that. I’ve been working out three days a week running when I’m not doing that. Everyday I’m doing something to get better.”

UMass is a reputable baseball program and playing for the Minutemen brings the opportunity to play in the Baseball Beanpot, often contested at Fenway Park. The challenge that comes with being a Division 1 pitcher is one Twiss plans to embrace.

“I can’t look at it as I’m D1, I’m done. I have to maximize my potential no matter what label I have, I have to commit myself to being the best player I can be,” he said. “I can’t ever be satisfied.”