Former NHS Baseball Players Bring Their Games To The Next Level

Throughout the past three years, Newtown High School’s baseball program has been represented by 11 players who went on to play ball at the collegiate level.

There were three players from the NHS class of 2010: Pitcher/outfielder John Fracker and pitcher Joe Fedak both moved on to play at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. Outfielder Andy Lapple went on to play at Colby Sawyer College.

Four more players from the class of 2011 also advanced their careers on the diamonds: R.J Roman, a designated hitter/first baseman brought his talent to Northeastern University; Bryan Czel is an outfielder at Central Connecticut State University; Chris Haylon a pitcher at Franklin & Marshall College; and Ryan Tita a pitcher Roger Williams University.

The Class of 2012 featured five standouts who continued their playing careers after their days at Newtown High ended. Kyle Wilcox went on to pitch at Bryant University. Mike Allwein is a catcher Roger Williams. Evan Noonan is an infielder/outfielder at Southern New Hampshire. Andy Kelley is an outfielder at Gettysburg College. Rich Sandler attended Misericordia in the fall of 2012.

The reason for all of this success stems from talent on the part of the players, of course, in addition to their good grades, and the right approach when it comes to looking to take their careers to the collegiate level,  Newtown Coach Matt Memoli said.

“It says a lot about our whole town — from the youth program to our freshman program that Mike Lago runs, our JV Coach Joe Crimi. He’s absolutely amazing,  just to be able to get the kids to absolutely love the sport, then — once they get to varsity — to hopefully have them with their eye on that dream to play in college and use baseball as a tool to further their education,” Memoli said.

You don’t see collegiate baseball powerhouses — most of which are in the South, Midwest, and West — on this list, but you do see Newtown’s players continuing their careers.

Memoli notes that there are plenty of Division II and III schools looking for athletes who get good grades and have talent on the ball field. It’s been about a 50-50 split, Memoli said, of players recruited to play baseball and who have walked onto their collegiate teams.

Memoli takes pride in helping his players find the right fit. Although some made their college decision based on grades, Memoli talked to the coaches and helped his former sluggers and pitchers get noticed, he said.

“They pretty much do it all,” Memoli says of the former Nighthawks extending their playing careers. But Memoli’s resume helps assist his players.

Memoli, after being recruited to play at Central Connecticut State, helped his collegiate team win a pair of Northeast Conference titles, earning trips to the NCAA tournament. He worked as an assistant at Yale for a year and a half before taking the head coaching job at Newtown High in 2012.

“As a former assistant coach at Yale University, I was able to make many connections with various colleges and universities throughout the Northeast. I absolutely love helping my student athletes play baseball at the next level,” Memoli said. “That’s a good way for me to help.”

Other coaches on the NHS baseball staff have college-playing experience. Crimi played at Eastern Connecticut, Blanco at St. John’s University in New York, and also was a part of the New York Yankees organization, and Joe Lizza was on the University of New Haven team. “We know what it takes,” says Crimi, adding that the players are the ones who work hard to make college ball a reality. “It’s a credit to them.”

Memoli said he took the job at NHS with the intent of developing the student-athletes into good people as well as get them to maximize their talent with the chance to play in college. Memoli ran the high school program much like a collegiate program, with morning offseason workouts.

Now, his former players come back and help Memoli coach potential future Newtown High and collegiate standouts in summer camps. Memoli runs a youth camps and clinics every spring and summer, and welcomes back his former players to lend helping hands.

“It’s great to have them back, teaching right after playing in high school,” Memoli said.

Coaches of other NHS teams who would like to share their news on former players competing in college should send information via e-mail to andyh@thebee.com.

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