By Jack Margaros
SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield College baseball team features a new player behind the plate in 2019 for the first time in four seasons.
Losing long-time backstop Pete Marsicano to graduation last year, Alex Denoyelle has taken over catching duties for the Pride ahead of his senior season. Denoyelle has played parts of three seasons for Springfield, but now has the opportunity to prove himself through a full season – which happens to be his last season.
“Alex has been a contributor ever since he’s been in our program. Because he had a pretty solid guy in front of him, it wasn’t always between the white lines,” Springfield head coach Mark Simeone said. “He’s going to get more opportunities I anticipate this year to contribute on the field. He’s an exemplary teammate, an exemplary student-athlete in our program.”
It’s been a long journey for Denoyelle to reach this point, and a culmination of several offseasons worth of fine tuning and position specific training.
“Every year I’ve done my best to put in work during the offseason; learn about hitting, learn about catching, different skills, different drills,” Denoyelle said. “Anything I can do to make myself better, anything I can do to help the guys around me get better.”
In his first year with Springfield back in 2016, Denoyelle got to the plate once. It was the ninth inning of a 20-0 blowout loss to Wheaton. Denoyelle flew out to center field.
Each year he’s earned more playing time. In 2017, he played nine games before appearing in 13 last season. Collectively, he has played 24 games and racked up 72 at-bats, but never been labeled as a starter.
“It’s obviously tough,” Denoyelle said. “I want to be playing, but I also understand that Pete playing was good for the team because Pete was a great catcher.”
That all changes this season.
Denoyelle will be leaned on not only to lift his own weight offensively but maintain a pitching staff that ranked as one of the best in the conference in 2018. Just because he’s secured the starting job doesn’t mean he can ease off.
“You’re always working for something,” he said. “I think you’re always fighting for something, whether it’s a starting spot or your fighting for just to get better so you can make an impact when you’re on the field.”
He has brought that same mindset with him to the field this season. Despite the limited playing time, Denoyelle has been able to cultivate a trusting relationship with his pitching staff.
“If you don’t have that (relationship), it doesn’t really matter how good you are to be honest because they have to be able to trust you and you have to be able to trust them,” Denoyelle said. “I know what they like to throw in certain situations, they know that they can shake me off if they want to throw something different…Having that relationship with them almost makes me kind of a leader to them.”
Leadership is a quality that is not seen on a stat sheet and cannot be measured. Denoyelle is called to be a leader this season because of the importance of his position — the coaching staff and his teammates are well aware of what he brings to the table.
“Alex has been a leader in our program since he’s been in our program,” Simeone said. “A guy that always puts team before himself, is never afraid to do more than what is expected of him because it’s in the best interest of the team.”
Within the small samples, Denoyelle has shown he’s capable of being a key cog in the lineup. In his sophomore season, he slashed .345/.412/.414 across 29 at-bats. Although there was a stark decrease in performance last season, as he hit .179 in 39 at-bats. Denoyelle looks to level out this season and be a consistent threat rather than an automatic out.
“I think I have to realize that yeah I didn’t have as many opportunities as I like, but those opportunities I did pretty well and use that as a confidence boost saying ‘alright, I get more opportunities and now let’s make a bigger impact,’” Denoyelle said.
Behind the plate, it’s hard to get much past him. Simeone and the pitching staff trust him to call a good game as well, which is somewhat of a rarity in today’s college game.
“I call myself a brick wall back there,” Denoyelle said.
Assuming a larger role this season motivates Denoyelle even more. His role is critically important to Springfield’s success, and he is looking forward to helping man one of the most talented teams the program compiled in recent history.
“We have a solid young core, we have leaders who are willing to put in extra work and the younger guys follow suit. Between the stars we have coming back and that young core, we have a lot of depth and have a lot of good energy to win.”
Photo courtesy Springfield College Athletics