FALMOUTH — During a baseball game late in the season, with Falmouth High’s unbeaten record in jeopardy, Coach Kevin Winship visited the mound and beckoned infielders to join him for a chat.
Seeing Winship grow more animated and remonstrative, center fielder Connor Aube ambled over to right fielder Reece Armitage and said, “That is one place we do not want to be right now.”
Winship heard about the remark later and laughed, mainly because Aube will never be mistaken for a class clown.
“He’s intense,” Armitage said. “Connor’s just a gritty, gritty athlete. Nothing gets in his way. No one slows him down.”
A four-year varsity starter who has accepted a Division I scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Martin, Aube is the unquestioned leader for a Falmouth club that earned the No. 1 seed and first-round bye in the Class A South tournament. Falmouth (16-0) will play a regional quarterfinal Thursday against No. 8 Deering (9-7) or No. 9 Cheverus (10-6), who play Wednesday.
“Connor’s pretty quiet,” Winship said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy. He just comes to the field and works hard, and takes care of business. He lets his actions on the field speak for him.”
Aube enters the tournament with a .519 batting average (28 for 54). Half of his hits have gone for extra bases, including eight home runs. He is 11 of 11 in stolen-base attempts and has scored 28 runs.
It’s not as if opposing pitchers are surprised by Aube’s production. He entered the season as a three-time Western Maine Conference first-team selection, batting a combined .430 with 35 stolen bases.
“He’ll get maybe one or two fastballs a game,” Armitage said. “He’s tough to get it by so they’re all going outside to him. They’re not giving him anything over the plate.”
Of course, with Aube’s speed, walks generally prove problematic. After seeing Aube pitched around in the third spot in the batting order last spring, Winship moved him to the leadoff spot.
“Our philosophy is that he’s our best hitter and we want him up as many times as possible,” Winship said. “If he walks, he’s going to steal second and probably third, so a walk can turn into a triple in a hurry.”
Aube said he comes by his speed from his parents, Craig and Carrie, both high school sprinters. His dad was a New Hampshire state champion in hurdles and his mom ran for Telstar High in Bethel.
The baseball lineage goes back to his grandfather, Neil Olson, an All-American third baseman for the University of New Haven in 1969. “He was the one who got me into it, probably at 2 years of age,” Aube said. “He had a tryout with the Red Sox but it didn’t work out for him.”
A middle infielder until he reached high school, Aube found shortstop ably filled by Will D’Agostino, who went on to play at Holy Cross after his 2014 graduation from Falmouth. There was an opening in left field so that’s where Aube landed. He moved to center as a sophomore and has remained there ever since.
“It’s less stressful in the outfield,” he said, glancing over his shoulder from the third-base dugout before a recent practice. “The infield does not play well here so you’re always worried about taking one off the face or the chest. Outfield is nice and low-key, and I have the ability to run, so that helps me a lot, too.”
Aube was a decorated running back and defensive back for Falmouth’s football team, and set the school’s season rushing record of 1,373 yards as a junior. As a freshman he also played basketball, “but I gave it up because I couldn’t dribble or shoot,” he said, and spent subsequent winters doing “a lot of hitting and arm strengthening.”
Last summer Aube played on a travel team based in Massachusetts called Northeast Baseball. It was at a tournament in Tennessee that he caught the eye of UT-Martin coaches. He made an official visit in August and signed a letter of intent in the fall. He said he plans to study business in college and is happy to have the decision behind him.
“You don’t have to go to home plate stressing about getting a base hit every time,” he said. “One of our assistant coaches says to go up to the plate with an attainable goal to hit the ball hard. So that’s all I’ve been trying to do.”
That strategy seems to be working. Now comes a tournament filled with unfamiliar SMAA opponents. Since moving up from Class B, Falmouth has lost in the semifinals twice, as the No. 2 seed in 2014 and the No. 4 seed in 2015. Falmouth won the 2012 Class B state title and lost to eventual champion York in the quarters in 2013, Aube’s freshman year.
“It’s interesting because you see a lot better competition,” Aube said of the Class A tourney. “The atmosphere is a little different. You have to raise the level of your game and intensity.”