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Branford seniors sign to play college sports

BRANFORD — When Zach Hand and MacKenzie Frye first began their athletic careers at Branford High, they joined young teams in the rebuilding process.   

Now seniors, they graduate having led the resurgence of the BHS baseball and softball programs for the past three years.

But the two aren’t finished playing yet. 

On Tuesday, they signed letters-of-intent to play college sports; Hand with Santa Fe Community College and Frye with Maryville College in Tennessee.      

“This is the first baseball and softball player in the four years that I’ve been here that are going on to play in college,” said BHS baseball coach and athletic director Alex O’Quinn. “It’s pretty special.”

It was fitting that the two signed on the same day. Hand and Frye have a lot in common. They both play competitive travel ball, are equally adept on offense and defense, and have helped the Buccaneers start winning on the diamond.  

After winning just four games combined from 2013-2014, Hand helped Branford amass a 34-30 record during the past three seasons. 

He finished his career with 29 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs in 74 games. 


Zach Hand, a standout hitter, also shut down opponents’ running game with a quick release and strong arm. He’s headed to play baseball at Santa Fe CC.  

The BHS softball team had a rough 2014 season, but with Frye in the circle and putting up big numbers at the plate, Branford got back on track; the Buccaneers have a 38-26 record in the last three years. 

In those years, Frye went 35-22 as a pitcher with a 2.62 ERA. She recorded 363 strikeouts in 334 innings. At the plate, Frye hit .457 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs. 


MacKenzie Frye signed with Maryville College in Tennessee.  

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According to both, the main ingredient to their success has been travel ball, which includes a year-long schedule against excellent competition.  

“When I was 10 I ended up going to Gatorball Academy,” Hand said. “It was pretty much my family.”

He’ll have one final travel season before starting college in the fall. 

“It takes so much relief off,” Hand said of signing to play at Santa Fe. “I have a home now. I’m able to go into the summer and have fun in my last travel ball season.”

Frye said playing for the North Florida Tiger Sharks travel team, and facing girls who have already committed to playing college softball, helped her improve as a player and get ready for college. 

She chose Maryville because of the familiar atmosphere.

“I thought it was kind of like Branford,” she said. “A small school with really nice people.”

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