BANGOR, Maine — As this year’s high school seniors begin the gauntlet of activities that lead up to graduation in just a few weeks, a sense of melancholy often interrupts the excitement as the reality that one chapter of life will soon give way to the next chapter hits home.
Bangor High School senior catcher Derek Fournier isn’t immune to such bittersweet thoughts.
“I’ll get a little emotional on the bench sometimes. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, it’s almost over,” said Fournier, a third-year starter behind the plate for the Rams who already has been a key member of two Class A state championship teams.
“We’re already (nearly half) of the way through the season. I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Making Fournier’s final foray into high school baseball all the more hectic was his delayed start to the season as he was busy helping the Hallowell-based Maine Moose win the 2017 18U Tier II 2A junior hockey national championship.
Fournier — a finalist for the Travis Roy Award as the top player in the state’s Class A high school hockey ranks last winter — was part of the goaltending tandem that led the Maine team to its first national title with a 3-2 win over the New Hampshire Avalanche in the championship match on April 10 in East Lansing, Michigan.
Fournier, who in June 2016 was drafted in the 13th round by the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, made 26 saves during the championship game and stopped a 2-on-0 breakaway in the final seconds to preserve the victory.
Fournier’s hockey pursuits caused him to miss some of Bangor’s baseball preseason as well as the Rams’ regular-season opener against Lewiston, but he’s gradually rounded into midseason form.
“The first couple of weeks was rough,” said Fournier. “I wasn’t hitting the ball well because I was off doing other things, I was all over the place. But then once I got settled in I started to do a lot better and was focusing on baseball than hockey.”
Fournier has a .292 batting average in seven games for the 7-1 Rams with a team-leading six RBI in 24 at-bats.
Perhaps more important is Fournier’s work behind the plate for a pitching staff anchored by seniors Peter Kemble, Nick Cowperthwaite and Gary Farnham that has allowed just four earned runs in its last 44 innings through Bangor’s 3-2 victory at Hampden on Wednesday. Both Hampden runs in that game were unearned.
“Derek obviously loves hockey and we’re proud of him and what he’s done there, but he’s also a special baseball player,” said Bangor baseball coach Dave Morris. “The pitchers love throwing to him, he calls a great game and he’s a great teammate.”
Fournier’s offensive breakthrough this spring may have come during a recent victory over Mt. Blue of Farmington when he doubled and singled twice with three RBIs and three runs scored.
“I thought he really squared balls up and hit them really hard,” said Morris of Fournier’s outburst against the Cougars. “His first at-bat he had a hard-hit ball in the gap and he came back the next time and kind of had the same thing when he hit the ball over the (left fielder’s) head.
“We saw it coming in batting practice, he really came alive and started squaring balls up.”
Fournier hopes to lead Bangor to another championship this spring before turning his athletic attention more completely toward hockey, beginning with a goalie training camp that begins soon after graduation day.
“I can’t really play baseball this summer because I have to go off in June for hockey so I won’t be able to stick around and play,” he said.