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Playoff ambitions for Nipmuc baseball

Anthony Ruggerio is expected to be a driving force behind the Nipmuc baseball team this season. Courtesy photo

Pitching depth, star Centerfielder to lead Warriors this spring

By Chris Villani

Nipmuc baseball brings a combination of experienced veterans and newcomers who are poised for breakout seasons to the field this spring, and head coach Anthony Leonelli is ready to test his team with a challenging schedule.

After a season on the job, Leonelli said the relatively new statewide playoff format, and the power rankings that are based, in part, on strength of schedule, led him to add non-league matchups against teams like Canton, Framingham, and Boston English.

“We beefed up the schedule,” he said. “So, we are going to try to improve from week to week, and just be playing our best ball by the end of the year.”

Leonelli said that having centerfielder Anthony Ruggerio gives Nipmuc a huge edge over the competition.

“He is an absolute monster,” the coach said. “He is an elite talent. I don’t know if I have ever seen a better hitter in this area.”

The question will be whether teams challenge Ruggerio when he is at the plate, or work around him. Leonelli said he is looking to several players to provide protection for Ruggerio in the lineup. Noah Parotta hit north of .300 as a junior, and Cody Jameson came on strong with the bat at the end of 2023.

“Cody started at third base last year, but he has been open to playing multiple positions and has been very versatile, which allows us to put our best lineup together,” Leonelli said. “It’s a selfless act out of a senior leader.”

Sophomores John Desmond and Josh Giancola saw significant action toward the end of last season and Leonelli figures both of them will be factors in the lineup as well as on the mound.

Nipmuc returns two of its top three pitchers from a season ago. Senior Dan Heisler and junior Dylan Muccini will once again log significant innings.

“We are versatile, and that’s helpful,” Leonelli said. “We have guys who can play a lot of different spots, and our pitching depth is considerable.”

Leonelli sees his team as one that should improve steadily throughout the spring and be a far better squad by the time the tournament rolls around. He said he is hoping Nipmuc can capture the Dual Valley Conference title and then make some noise in both the Central Mass. Athletic Directors’ tournament and the state playoffs.

“We might be a later arriving crowd,” Leonelli said. “But I definitely like the pieces we have to work with.”