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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Coming off an incredible Cinderella run all the way to the Division II South finals as a No. 11 seed in 2017, the Westwood High School varsity baseball team enters the 2018 season with high hopes.
Following the conclusion of last season, however, Westwood head coach Jimmy Vanaria stepped away for a one-year sabbatical. Vanaria is expected back for the 2019 season, meaning that somebody new would have to come in and lead the Wolverines in 2018.
Obviously, it was a tough sell for Westwood AD Matt Gillis to get somebody to coach a team for just one year, especially when it is a team coming off of such an exceptional season like the one Westwood had in 2017. However, the chance to coach was all that Medfield native and former Medfield Legion Post 110 coach Garrett Larkin needed to be sold.
A graduate of Merrimack and a Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick in 1995, Larkin applied to be the new head baseball coach at his alma mater, Medfield High School, last fall. However, MHS opted to stay in-house and hired David Worthley. After being the odd-man out at Medfield, Larkin reached out to various coaches in the area such as Walpole’s Chris Costello, looking to see if they needed assistants. Costello agreed to have Larkin come in and work with the Rebels as a hitting coach, but also brought up the idea of Westwood needing somebody for one year, with Vanaria taking time off. As great of an opportunity as being assistant was at Walpole, the chance to be the head coach of a varsity program, no matter for how long, was too good for Larkin to pass up.
After meeting with Gillis at Westwood High in January, it didn’t take long for the two to come to an agreement to have Larkin be the interim coach at Westwood for the 2018 season.
With all of the time spent in the Cape League, as well as the Northern League East with the Adirondack Lumberjacks and New Jersey Jackals, Larkin clearly has enough baseball experience to bring a lot of positives to Westwood this spring. It will only be a one-year experience for the former Merrimack Warrior at WHS, but one that he hopes will lead to success on the field for his team and hopefully, allow him to be recognized and earn another head-coaching gig elsewhere following the conclusion of this season.
Westwood will open up its season on April 6 against Dedham.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.