Hopedale Baseball seniors already scouted for collegiate baseball
Aug 27, 2020 11:40AM
By By Christopher Tremblay
In early March, Covid-19 ran amok though the area and before the high school spring seasons could get under way, they were abruptly cancelled, leaving many seniors without the possibility of playing in their final season.
In addition to not seeing the field during the spring season many seniors were left out in the cold when it came to having college scouts in the stands watching their games.
While the senior year is when schools usually make their pitch toward athletes to entice them to come and play for them, it is the junior campaign that usually carries the most weight. a the pandemic causing havoc and shutting down schools and sports throughout the state many juniors were put on the back burner to be viewed.
Luckily two Hopedale baseball players had scouts watching them the year prior and although they found themselves on the sidelines during their junior campaign, Sean Ryan and Alex Luccini had already committed to take their sport to the next level.
Ryan, who took to the mound and played the hot corner for the Blue Raiders, will be taking his talents to Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts, while his teammate Luccini will be headed to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where he will be used as an utility player seeing action at catcher, first-base and in the outfield.
However, before the two Hopedale athletes attempt to make their respective college squads, they’ll get a chance to play baseball one more year for Hopedale High School during their upcoming senior season and do not having to worry about if their skills are good enough to make the jump to the collegiate level.
Both Hopedale athletes, who began playing baseball at a very young age, played for the junior varsity team in the seventh and eighth grade and by their freshman year, once they showed the Blue Raider coaching staff what they could bring to the team, they found their way onto the varsity squad.
As a freshman Ryan primarily played third base, but by his sophomore campaign he was a starting pitcher that was eventually named a Dual Valley All Star who recorded 56 strikeouts during his first full varsity season.
“I originally thought of myself as a contact pitcher where I let my defense do the work behind me,” the now-senior said. “I began lifting weights, got stronger and grew in height and found my fastball, which I rely heavily on now.”
While his teammate was playing baseball tee-ball, Luccini came from a baseball family. His father played college ball for Salem State and his grandfather was the long-time baseball coach for Franklin High School. Although a baseball junkie from birth, Luccini really didn’t realize that he had the talent until he began playing for an AAU team the summer after his freshman year.
“There were a lot of talented kids already committed to play Division 1 college baseball on that team,” Luccini said. “It was then that I understood that if I could continue to be able to keep up with them then I would have a chance to play in college as well.”
Coming into this past season as juniors both athletes felt that once college scouts were able to see them play on the field then they’d realize that they belonged on the next level.
Unfortunately, neither Ryan nor Luccini would get to spot a scout in the stands as they played for Hopedale this past year due to the pandemic closing all the schools. With the cancellation trepidation set in.
“After putting in all the hard work and not having coaches see me play was frustrating,” Luccini said. “Every time that I worked out or practiced, I would video it and send it to the coaches. I used the canceled season as fuel; it gave me extra time to work out more and prepare.”
Ryan pretty much felt the same way.
“I was devastated as I had taken off the previous winter from playing basketball so that I could be ready for the baseball season and help the team win,” he said. “To have no season after working so hard seemed like a big waste of my time.”
While many juniors lost the chance at being seen, Luccini and Ryan were lucky that they had gotten an early jump on the process and committed to a school to play a sport that they love.
Ryan had three other schools on his radar, but always felt that Nichols was his top choice. During an overnight to the school, he was won over not only by the environment but by the vibes that he got from the coaches and the current players, so he committed in mid-July.
“I had been offered a position on the team back in March, but it was still very early in the process and I wanted to go and see the other schools and get a feel for them,” Ryan said. “In July I called the coach and verbally committed; it was a big relief after having worked so hard in high school to be able to take my talent to the collegiate level.”
When he eventually gets to Nichols the coaches are hoping that he can be a two-way player but playing the field and batting every day in addition to pitching is not an easy task.
“I love hitting and playing the field and hope that I can do both, but if I can’t pitching is what I am best at,” Ryan said. “Practices are right after one another so it will take up a lot of my time, so we’ll have to see how things go.”
Much like Ryan, Luccini eventually committed in early July and he too was looking at numerous schools (Stonehill College and Worcester State in Massachusetts as well as Bucknell University and Lafayette College both in Pennsylvania) to bring his talents to.
“Any of the five would have been fine with me, but after speaking with a couple of kids I knew that were already on the team I was high on UMASS,” Luccini said. “I had spoken to the coach a few days before I had committed, but when he called and asked me if I wanted to be a Riverhawk I accepted on the spot. I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
As they enter their senior years already knowing that they have positions on a collegiate team, the pressure is off them for the most part. While that is the case both Ryan and Luccini are both looking forward to playing in their senior season as they believe that Hopedale will field a team that is not only capable of winning the District Championships but one that should make a run at the State Title.
The only question left to be answered is will there be a season or will Covid continue to wipe out high school sports.