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Nipmuc’s Ruggiero earns spot in national tourney Baseball standout is part of inaugural Massachusetts team

Anthony Ruggiero earned a spot on a statewide Massachusetts all-star team after a stellar season for Nipmuc baseball. Courtesy photo

By Chris Villani
Sports Writer
Anthony Ruggiero had been looking forward to the end of June for the entire spring. The Nipmuc rising senior found out he had earned a place on the first Massachusetts entry into the 2023 GEICO High School Baseball National Championship and was eager to take part in the showcase of some of the nation’s top players.
“I feel like I do better when I play against high level competition and I feel like being around all of these elite players is going to make me want to be better,” Ruggiero said from Dallas the night before the tournament began.
“I play summer ball with some of these kids, there are kids who are committed to my school and kids going to Power 5 colleges,” he said. “Being around them is going to be fun.” 
A Mendon resident, Ruggiero is committed to play at Northeastern University and will join the Huskies in the fall of 2024. He joined team Massachusetts this spring after a standout campaign for Nipmuc. The centerfielder hit over .400 with five home runs and showed a knack for getting on base and stealing bases once he was there.
“I usually default to ‘everything was better back in my day,’ but this kid has got the prettiest swing I have seen, and I have seen just about every Nipmuc player for the past 30 years,” head coach Anthony Leonelli said earlier this spring about his top offensive threat.
Ruggiero said he knew he made the right choice in going to Northeastern when he visited the campus. “I just felt very welcomed there and I felt like they would run through a wall for me.” 
Going into the national tournament, which was played in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in the sweltering Texas early summer, Ruggiero embraced a team-first mentality. 
“This is not an individual thing,” he said before the tourney began. “It’s all hands on deck and I will play anywhere in the outfield they ask me to play.”
The national tournament featured teams from Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas, in addition to the Bay State. The games took place at Dallas Baptist University’s Horner Ballpark and were broadcast on the ESPN platform.
Ruggiero said he was thrilled to make the team and pleased with his success in a Nipmuc uniform this spring, but he isn’t done trying to improve.
“My goal for next year is just to become a bigger, better and stronger version of myself,” he said. “Both as a baseball player and as a person.”