WILMINGTON, MA — This is the eleventh (and final) in a series of profiles celebrating the former Wilmington Little League’s seniors playing on the Wilmington High School baseball team. Little League’s motto is courage, character, and loyalty. Through playing with and against each other, these student athletes the embodiment of the motto.
There is always that one kid who, when you watch them they look like they were born to be a ballplayer. Riley Zaya is that type of kid. He always seems to be in the right place, is fundamentally sound, and looks like he belongs on the baseball diamond. He comes from a family of ballplayers and spent a lot of his formative years with his dad and brother at baseball camps, run by the coach of Reading High. He is also the kind of player who would run through a wall for you. He once gutted out an entire game with a sore arm, never letting the coach know so that he could help his team. Riley is a quick witted kid who knows how to keep everyone loose, but also knows when to buckle down and get serious.
Riley began his WLL career in Rookie ball playing for the Yellow Jackets, coached by Fred Russell. Once on the field, his skills and ability were evident to anyone who saw him play. That first year on the small diamond was filled with many exciting memories. He remembers getting his first hit, catching his first popup, turning his first double play, and turning a single into a double. He remembers how much fun it was go to the field, get dirty and play baseball.
Drafted by the Indians as a ten year old, he played his first season under Coach Jim Dee. His final two seasons he played for Coach Fred Russell. The highlight of his Majors career was getting to play one season with his brother Connor.
He was selected to play on the All Star tournament team each of his three seasons. Other memorable moments included pitching a complete game, getting his first hit as a 10 year old, and turning a game saving double play during a 11 year old All Star tournament game. He really enjoyed playing for Coach Russell, and helping the Indians to the playoff semifinals during his final year in the Majors. Riley played on the Indians with future Wildcats Jack Boyle and Jarred Aucoin. He also always enjoyed marching in the Opening Day parade and hanging with his friends on the outfield fence watching the other teams play their games.
Riley finished his WLL career playing two years in Juniors. Along with the spring teams, he also played for the Jimmy Fund, Pony, and Northeast teams in the summer. He was a valuable contributor to the first Wilmington Middle School team. He helped lead the Wildcats to a 16-5 record and a trip to the semifinals of the playoffs. He also played on the 2016 Northeast team, which was the first Wilmington team to win a Northeast League Division championship.
This will be Riley’s second year playing Varsity Baseball for the Wildcats, having competed at the Freshman and JV level for the his first two years. He was a member of the 2017 Middlesex Freedom division championship team last year. He also played four years on the WHS Soccer team.
Riley is thankful for all the years his mother Claire, Father Tom, brother Connor, and sister Mackenzie made the time to see him play. He is grateful to have gotten the opportunity to play that one year in the Majors with his brother. He is planning on attending the University of New Hampshire in the fall to study business.
(NOTE: The above profile is from Wilmington Little League.)
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