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NECC Knight Named National Pitcher of the Year

Submitted by on June 28, 2023 – 7:59 pm

Charlotte, NC (June 26, 2023) – The National Junior College Athletic Association has named Northern Essex Community College sophomore Jairo Vasquez of Lawrence as the NJCAA Division III National Pitcher of the Year. Vazquez is the first Northern Essex student-athlete to be named a national player winner since Colby Maiola was the Player of the Year in 2016.

Jairo Vasquez is the NJCAA Div. III Pitcher of the Year

The first-team All-American selection and Pitcher of the Tournament at the NJCAA World Series, Vazquez led the nation in earned run average 0.93 and was tied for first in strikeouts with 121 over 68 innings pitched. In 14 appearances, he was 8-0 on the season with one save.

His 16.01 strikeouts per nine innings also ranked second in the country.

“Jairo had a truly remarkable and record-breaking season.  His lead-by-example attitude and maturity are what propelled our team to the NJCAA Championships.  Jairo has a work ethic and mindset that will follow him to the professional level.  I could not be any prouder of Jairo as the person he has become,” stated NECC head coach Jeff Mejia.

Vasquez was a dominant player at Lawrence High School, where he led the Lancers to two Division 1 North title games. He graduated in 2018 and in 2019, he enrolled in New Mexico Junior College with plans to keep playing his beloved sport. But when COVID canceled the upcoming season, Vasquez returned home and, as he told the Eagle-Tribune, made some bad choices that ended with him behind bars.

Once out on parole, Vasquez returned to baseball. NECC’s Coach Mejia had been keeping track of Vasquez since his high school days and worked with him to secure a spot on the team.

“I was just trying to do the right thing so I can move forward and leave that behind. Baseball is honestly everything to me,” Vasquez said to the Eagle-Tribune. “It’s the only place where I can just go and feel like a kid all over again, working hard trying to achieve that goal, having fun with the boys, being surrounded by a good environment.”

Vasquez and the Knights concluded one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history as they finished with an overall record of 38-8 and a third-place finish in the World Series in Greeneville, TN. In their ninth all-time World Series appearance, it was the third top-three finish to go along with 2012 and 2016 (runner-up).

Learn more about NECC’s varsity athletics by visiting the webpage.