Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jake Noviello's Fire Fueling Panthers' Super Eight Run

Jake Noviello (pictured) is the heart and soul of a Franklin team that is proving everyone wrong. 
Photo by Ryan Lanigan (

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

On Memorial Day, Jake Noviello toed the rubber fully knowing that Franklin’s dreams of a Super Eight appearance hung onto his right arm.

The right-hander had been waiting for this opportunity for four years and he stared at in the final athletic season of his high school career. It was a chance that the competitiveness in him was never going to let fly.

Noviello turned in one of the finest performances of his career going eight innings allowing just one run on six hits while striking out a dozen in a 6-1, nine-inning Franklin win over North Attleboro. As Noviello walked off the mound for the final time he pumped his fist as he had done numerous times prior. The face of the program had just led them to history.

“We’re really fortunate to have Jake Noviello in our program the last four years,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown. “He has done everything to be an integral part of our program. He has been our ace the last three years and he has been through it all.” 

The Providence College baseball program may have discontinued in 1999, but the influence on the Noviello family in Franklin remains.

Long before becoming the ace of the Panthers' staff, Jake heard stories from his father Tony about his time as a member of the Friars pitching staff in the late 1980s. Those stories soon translated into Jake's own dream.

“With my dad playing at PC, since I was three or four he has really kind of taught me how to play the game and what to do on the mound,” said Noviello. “He took me to Red Sox games. It got really competitive as I jumped to the big diamond and realized I threw harder than most kids my age.”

After spending most of his freshman spring on the junior varsity team, Noviello got time with the varsity squad as the season came to a close.

Less than ten months later, Noviello was the Panthers’ opening day starter versus Oliver Ames. Standing at six-feet three-inches and just over 150 pounds, Noviello labeled himself as a ‘string bean’ as he retained relatively high velocity but struggled with his command.

Radar guns began to appear at college showcases he attended but the results were less than inspiring. 

“As a sophomore I started to get some college looks but I did not do so well,” said Noviello. “I had some bad games in front of them. But I used that to get used to the feeling of pitching in a competitive environment.”

Noviello received feedback from colleges that he had the artillery to become a college pitcher, but that he needed to build up his frame and work on his control in order to reach the level he was striving for.

Prior to the spring of his junior year, Noviello began attending Cressey Performance. He increased the size of his lower body and shot up from 170 pounds to almost 195. His velocity increased, but so did his knack for pitching as he became enamored with one of the best control pitchers to ever step foot on a Major League mound.

“I began looking at Greg Maddux,” said Noviello. “I read up on him, watched video, and just noticed some of the methods he followed and what he would do. He always used to say ‘you don’t need a lot of velocity, but you need a ton of control.’”

Alongside catcher Jake Macchi, Noviello retooled himself slightly as a pitcher relying not so much on the fact that he could touch close to 90 miles per hour, but more on his pinpoint control on both sides of the plate. It was not longer about how hard he threw but knowing that every pitch he fired in was the right one as long as he could place it wherever Macchi set up. 

Most importantly, however, Noviello combined his desire to win with his love for pitching. An outwardly fiery competitor, Noviello displays his demeanor on a pitch-by-pitch basis finding a spark of emotion for every strikeout he piles up.

“I take that fire with me everywhere,” said Noviello. “I love going out there in big situations and just competing. That side of me I have carried with me my whole life. When I am able to blow a fastball by someone, or hit a spot for strike three, there’s an adrenaline rush that builds up – there’s no way to explain it except that it gets everyone going.”

Heading into his senior year Noviello added another 20 pounds, bringing his total build to six-feet five-inches and 215 pounds. He often towers over hitters mixing his 87-90 mile per hour four-seam fastball, changeup, and curveball to fool whatever lineup he may be facing.

For his senior season, the right-hander is 6-2 with a 1.58 ERA. He has struck out 57 in 57.2 innings while allowing just 43 hits.

“There are not many other people you would want on the mound other than (Jake) in a big situation,” said Brown. “I thought he was at his best against North Attleboro, in one of the top pitching matchups of the season, when we needed it most.”

Around the practice field Noviello is often energetic and relaxed, willing to pull the occasional prank on a fellow teammate. He was the Panthers quarterback in the fall, and his throwing arm and performance led to interest from a handful of IVY League programs. Noviello’s charisma, personality, and love for baseball kept him focused on becoming a weekend starter at a Division 1 program.

He found that in Fairfield.

“The coaches were really involved with me and showed they really want me,” said Noviello. “They have great Division 1 athletics. They have a great social life there. Obviously it’s right on the beach. That, on top of the academic aspect of them having a great business school, it ended up being the place I clearly wanted to be.”

Yet his urge to begin his career at Fairfield is impeded by a lone obstacle – the opportunity at a Super Eight championship.

Led by a classic Noviello start on the mound the Panthers got past No. 2 Wachusett in the opening round. 

Four days later against No. 3 St. John’s Prep, Noviello found himself at third base where he often plays when not handling the starting pitching duties. After seven stellar innings from Bryan Woelfel, and 1.2 innings of relief from Jason Ulrickson, Noviello was called upon by Brown to handle a one-run Panther lead.

With a slot in the Super Eight semifinals on the line Noviello did not back down and induced a groundball to second base to complete the upset.

“To reach the Super Eight semis is unbelievable,” said Noviello following the win. “As a team we feel like we have earned in and we love proving people wrong.”

Franklin will now turn its attention to Wednesday night’s showdown versus Central Catholic with a spot in the Super Eight Final on the line. Franklin’s ace is expected to get the start and if the past is any indication he will carry the same mentality to the mound that he has for the past four seasons.

By week's end, however, the Panthers are hoping that Noviello’s final walk-off on the mound does not involve a fist pump but rather a jump into Macchi’s arms. 

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