New Look for Nipmuc Baseball in 2017
By Chris Villani Sports Reporter/Columnist · April 10, 2017
The Nipmuc baseball team takes the field this spring without the three pitchers that helped the Warriors to a 15-6 record a year ago, but boasting an aggressive lineup that has head coach Steve DellaRovere optimistic for the new season.
"It's been a transition, losing a lot of the guys who played a lot last year, but the guys we have returning have been great in trying to catch everyone up and get them up to speed on what we do," he said. "So far, so good."
The Warriors advanced to the semifinals of the district tournament in 2016 before falling to Groton-Dunstable paced by starting pitchers Tom Sperino, Kyle Nocera, and Izaiah Wadsworth, all of whom also played a significant role in the Nipmuc offense as well.
Senior Zach Hunter returns this spring and is expected to start in the outfield and see time on the mound, DellaRovere said. Fellow senior Ethan Paine returns behind the plate and the head coach said the team will really on him to help other players with less experience at the varsity level.
Another big piece of this year's team is junior third baseman Cole Alibozek, who emerged as one of Nipmuc's best hitters a season ago.
"He came out of nowhere for us last year and ended up hitting toward the top of the lineup," DellaRovere said. "He will be a key part of that part of the lineup again this year, getting on base, moving guys along."
Senior Ryan Burke is back to play shortstop again this year, and will also pitch. J.P. Lucie and Jack Tempesta are two players who saw time at the junior varsity level last year but could step into varsity pitching roles this year, DellaRovere said.
"There is a good cohesiveness among these guys," the coach said. "You don't want to dwell on what you lost from the previous year, these guys are embracing the challenge."
Nipmuc will take on the challenge with an aggressive mindset, DellaRovere said.
"Team speed is something we are going to have which we have not had over the past few years," he said. "We have good aggressiveness at the plate and in the field. These guys play a lot of different sports, so they bring a competitive mindset to the team."
The Warriors were a perfect 8-0 in Dual Valley Conference play last year, and DellaRovere said the goal is to be at the top of the league again in 2017.
"This league is competitive, it's pretty balanced as well," he said. "We are all pretty familiar with each other, but the guys have the expectation of winning the league."