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Sunday, June 5, 2011
Winnisquam's Cote enduring season for ages

By Roger Brown

It’s unlikely that Jordan Cote will forget his junior season with the Winnisquam Regional baseball team anytime soon.

That’s when Cote, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound right-handed pitcher, led Winnisquam to the program’s first state championship, and punctuated the season by tossing a no-hitter against previously unbeaten Somersworth in the Class M championship game.

Although pitchers are limited to 16 innings during the state tournament, Cote pitched in each of the Wolves' four postseason games. He collected three victories and a save, and finished his junior year with an 11-0 record and a 0.66 ERA.

His senior season may prove to be even more memorable, however. Cote has already been named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, and he has his team in position to win another state title.

The fourth-seeded Wolves reached the Division III (formerly Class M) semifinals by beating Mascenic in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Cote pitched a complete game, struck out 12 and allowed just two hits.

The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is what may put Cote’s senior season over the top. The draft will be held Monday through Wednesday, and Cote is expected to be selected sometime Tuesday, when rounds two through 30 will be held.

“We’ve heard as high as the third round and as low as the seventh,” Winnisquam coach Fred Caruso said. “We think he’ll be taken in the top 10 somewhere.

“He’s a big kid with huge hands. He has an A-plus fastball for this level. He’s been clocked as high as 94 (mph). [Professional] scouts have told me they project him at 235 [pounds] and throwing 97.

“We still had scouts showing up at our game Saturday, two days before the draft. The Yankees are very, very high on him, as are the Pirates and the Phillies. We just have to see what happens.”

Cote, a Sanbornton, N.H. resident, is scheduled to pitch again Friday, when Winnisquam faces top-seeded Somersworth in the semifinals. Cote was on the mound when Winnisquam handed Somersworth its only regular-season loss earlier this season.

This season Cote is 6-1 with a 0.77 ERA. He’s surrendered 22 hits, five earned runs and eight walks in 45 1/3 innings. He has 82 strikeouts, and recorded his 300th career strikeout during the regular-season victory over Somersworth earlier this season.

Of the 699 pitches he’s thrown, 504 have been strikes. He’s also batting .491 (28 for 57).

“Jordan Cote just dominates people," Franklin High coach Tom Charbono said."He throws gas, and he's got a slider and a tight curveball to go with it. He's a special talent  the complete package."

Cote signed a national letter of intent with Coastal Carolina last November. At that point, Cote said, he had no idea professional scouts would be flocking to his games this spring.

Boston College, Connecticut, Kennesaw State, Vanderbilt and Mississippi were among the other college programs that showed serious interest in Cote. He said his final decision came down to a choice between Connecticut and Coastal Carolina.

“It was tough to say no to Connecticut because I had a real close relationship with their recruiting coordinator, Justin Blood,” Cote said. “He came to more than half my games last year.

“At the same time Coastal Carolina was a better fit. It allows me to get out of the Northeast. I don’t like the cold weather.”

Cote’s father Scott said the fact that Cote could golf year-round at Coastal Carolina may have been a factor in his college decision as well.

“I think what made the decision easier for Jordan is that Coastal Carolina is a baseball school,” Scott said. “A school like Connecticut is known more for basketball.”

Cote may never throw a pitch in college, since Scott said his son’s preference is to turn professional this summer. According to Scott, the Cote family has established a dollar figure that will determine whether his son goes to college or begins working for a living this year.

“Money is definitely the No. 1 factor,” Cote said. “I wish baseball could always be for fun, but that’s not the way it is. “