Noviello’s Positive Influence Key Asset for Franklin Nine

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Jake Noviello is a talented athlete whose compete level is off the charts.
Issue Date: 
May, 2018
Article Body: 

Jake Noviello isn’t bashful about expressing optimism when talk centers around Franklin High’s baseball prospects for the 2018 season.
The 6-foot-5, 218-pound senior, who’s been a Hockomock League all-star pitcher the last two seasons, firmly believes the Panthers have the talent, the athleticism and team chemistry to win both the Kelly-Rex Division and the league crown. And, going forward, Noviello lists winning the state championship as his top goal.
“Our league is very competitive,’’ said Noviello, who posted a 7-2 record with a 1.48 earned-run average last year. “We can win the division and the Hockomock title outright. And, we’ve got the kind of roster to get to the state tourney and win it. Pitching is a key factor, and we’re solid on the mound. And, we’ve got the right coach to lead us.’’
So far, the Panthers are 2-1 and Noviello is 0-1, losing to Foxboro in a game where he struck out 11 and didn’t allow an earned run.
Franklin’s coach, Zach Brown, is bullish on his veteran right-hander, calling him a “main cog’’ when the Panthers rolled to the league crown last year and finished as the No. 1 seed in the Division 1 South Tournament.
“Jake is a team-first guy, a tremendous leader and a positive influence on our team,’’ said Brown. “He’s been a key to our past success. A talented pitcher, he’s been the ace of our staff for three years.’’
Brown also values Noviello’s maturity and leadership skills. “As one of our captains, Jake did a great job in the off-season coordinating players for workouts,’’ Brown said. “He’s a blue-collar leader, we’re fortunate to have him, and we value his presence. He’s special, just a terrific student-athlete.
A National Honor society student, the 18-year-old Noviello has already solidified his future. He’ll be playing Division 1 baseball next spring. “I’ve accepted a baseball scholarship to Fairfield University,’’ Noviello said. “I chose Fairfield for a variety of reasons. Its baseball program is Division 1, its academic standing is solid, and its business school is top-notch. I plan to major in finance.’’
Noviello was Fairfield’s first 2018 recruit to be awarded a scholarship. And, it’s easy to understand why. His strengths include a fastball that’s in the 88-90 mph range, a high baseball IQ, confidence and good control of his fastball, slider and change-up. “I like to call my style as smartly aggressive,’’ he said. “I’ve got confidence in my fastball. Being aggressive puts doubt in an opposing hitter’s mind.’’
Games last year against Foxboro early in the season and against Marshfield in the tourney are sufficient sample sizes of Noviello’s take-charge approach. Franklin edged Foxboro, 4-2, and the contest with Marshfield was the Panthers’ only tourney victory.
“We went into the Foxboro game with a 4-3 record,’’ Noviello recalled. “We weren’t playing to our potential, but after winning that game we won 10 of our next 12. I pitched a two-hitter, going six innings and striking out 12. Against Marshfield, I gave up one run and struck out nine. Unfortunately, we lost the next game to Durfee, which eliminated us when I was a sophomore. If we get to see them in the tourney again, I want to start that game.’’
Noviello knows he’ll need to keep improving, especially at the collegiate level, and he’s acutely aware of what area needs attention. “I can be more mentally tough,’’ he emphasized. “I can learn to better control my emotions. Being more mentally tough will help me re-focus, meet challenges more effectively and push myself.’’
Noviello, who was Franklin’s quarterback in football the last 2½ years, doesn’t need any prodding to laud teammates and coaches. He’s quick to cite senior outfielder Steven Luttazi, senior pitcher Bryan Woelfel and Brown. “Steven worked hard in the off-season,’’ he said. “He’s a great hitter and fielder whose baseball IQ is high. Bryan is a starting pitcher who’s got good off-speed pitches and excellent control. As for coach Brown, he’s so respected. A good manager, he’s strategic and very motivating.’’
Calling his father (Tony) his role model for being supportive and encouraging, Noviello says much of his baseball knowledge stems from his dad’s advice. “He played for Providence Colleg, and he’s been so helpful over the years,’’ Noviello said.
A fan of Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale because of his ‘’aggressive yet composed style,’’ Noviello’s competitive philosophy is all about winning. “Working hard to reach your potential is a key factor and enjoying sports is a must but winning is very important,’’ he said. “You enjoy sports when you’re winning.’’
Learning life lessons in athletics is a plus and Noviello points to football and baseball helping him in developing leadership skills and self-discipline. “I was a captain in football, and I’m a captain in baseball this year,’’ he said. “It’s important to lead by example, be vocal and always encourage younger players.’’
Capturing league all-star honors twice, Noviello is humbled by the recognition, but he’s quick to deflect the notice to hard work and his teammates. “Individual honors are nice, but team welfare and winning are more important,’’ he emphasized.
And what’s also important for Noviello when he’s pitching with a runner in scoring position is getting that third strike. “That’s what excites me,’’ he noted. “That’s what gets my adrenaline going.’’