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Competition Drives Nipmuc Basebal

Steve Della Rovere has a problem on his hands, but it's one any coach would take in a heartbeat.
The Nipmuc baseball head coach has a number of talented players on his team, and a limited amount of playing time to be earned. The result is some internal competition that he views as a positive. "It's been great," he said. "The biggest thing is going to be the battle for spots and playing time, but I think it can be beneficial."
The Warriors did take a few hits due to graduation after finishing 2011 with a post-season run that ended in a loss to Northbridge. Dual-Valley MVP Kelly Rooney is gone after serving as the team's lead-off hitter and starting shortstop. Pitcher Tim Sabian also graduated, as did Dan Geary, Brian Ferrucci, and Zach Wojtowicz, all of whom saw significant time last year. But Della Rovere has a number of seniors on this year's squad to try to replace that leadership and production." We have 12 guys back and when you have that kind of experience it makes things a lot easier," he said. "The kids know the drills and know what's expected, we already have a set routine in place."
Leading the returning crop are captains Tom Paine, Eric Jorgensen, Scott Hubener, and Brian St. Germain. Paine has been the starting catcher since his sophomore year and will fill that role again this season. Jorgensen will play in the outfield and see time on the mound. Hubener will most likely be in center field and St. Germain is expected to play somewhere in the infield, although Della Rovere isn't 100 percent certain where just yet.
The Warriors also have a great deal of pitching depth returning, with Mike Smith leading the way after seeing time on the mound for Nipmuc and for the Northbridge Legion team. Connor Colombo, Chris O'Rourke, and Sam McGovern are also expected to contribute to the pitching effort.
"We have a lot of pitching depth," said Della Rovere. "Mike (Smith) is coming back and the other guys saw time last year and they'll have the benefit of that experience. Often times as a junior you don't get to play a lot but you gain the experience of being around the varsity team."
Nipmuc opens the season this Monday at Burncoat, and will face a strong test in the league. Della Rovere expects Hopedale, Blackstone Millville Regional, Sutton, and Whitinsville Christian to be among the stronger teams on the schedule, but all the league games present a challenge.
"As in any league, sometimes you can throw out who the better team is," said Della Rovere. "Any team can sneak up on you and beat you."
But before facing the 20 game schedule that lies ahead, Della Rovere has a difficult task that he has no problem taking on. "My job is going to be tough," he said. "A lot of guys have a lot of talent, it's just a matter of putting them in the right places."




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