Matt Verrier of Oxford Hills plays baseball the right way, according to his coach, Shane Slicer.

Verrier’s love of the game is evident in everything he does. From his work as the team’s catcher, to his offense, to the extra time he puts in, Verrier wants to take baseball as far as he can.

The next stop for the rugged senior will be the University of Maine, where he will play on scholarship.

Grateful for what was afforded him in baseball growing up, Verrier willingly gives back to the youth in the area.

“Matt is very well respected in Oxford Hills,” said Slicer. “He’s gotten a lot of accolades but handles it very well. He’s one of the most influential baseball people in this area.

“He works with Little League players and helps with running clinics. He’s awesome with the kids. He has a brother who plays Little League and Matt is the assistant coach.”

Slicer also said that being the best catcher in the state, “Matt has made our pitching staff one of the best in the state.”

Verrier’s ability to block pitches in the dirt has been key.

“We obviously needed that in the state championship game with only one run,” said Slicer.

Oxford Hills edged Biddeford 1-0 last month to win the Class A state title.

“It was a goal we all wanted,” said Verrier. “Anything short of a state title would have been disappointing.”

Verrier helped Oxford Hills become the best team in the state. Since then, Verrier has won his share of honors.

He was named the winner of the John Winkin Award as the state’s Mr. Baseball. He’s also the Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald baseball MVP, and was honored last month at this newspaper’s All-Sports Awards banquet.

Before the season ended, Verrier was named the Maine Gatorade player of the year, and was selected as KVAC South player of the year.

Verrier was active in numerous sports growing up.

“My parents let me play everything,” he said.

As a seventh grader, Verrier watched the Vikings beat Westbrook with Andrew Keniston for the state title in Augusta.

“It made an impression on us,” said Verrier. “We said that we wanted to do the same thing when we were seniors.”

The Vikings built momentum as the season went along, got through a tough Eastern Class A tournament, then had just enough to end Biddeford’s Cinderella postseason.

the time Verrier was watching Oxford Hills win its first baseball title five years ago, he had decided that baseball would be the sport he would concentrate on.

Slicer was well aware of Verrier’s potential by then.

“Matt was a pitcher in Little League,” said Slicer. “the time he was in junior high, he was a great catcher. As a ninth grader, I stuck him behind the plate. He was playing against 18- and 19-year-olds, but he was physically able to do it.”

The intervening years have shown Verrier’s dedication to improving his all-around game.

He has worked on his game during the offseason at indoor facilities, Frozen Ropes in Portland and Maine Hits in Scarborough.

During the past four summers, he has played for Bessey Motors in American Legion. Last summer he played in the Area Code Games, which brings some of the top high school talent in the country together.

The highlights were playing games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.

That exposure attracted several schools to show interest in Verrier, but he decided to stay close to home.

“Maine put a good package together,” said Verrier. “I loved it there when I visited.”