Four Toll Gate baseball players signed their National Letters of Intent at the school on Wednesday morning in front of their friends, family and coaches.
AJ Ucci signed to play at Wheaton while Jake Randall committed to Rhode Island College. Derek Lallo committed to Lasell and Christian Rapoza signed to Lesley. Teammate Caden Haley is also set to commit to Lesley in the coming days.
The group of senior leaders have been playing together since the youth level and have helped lead the way for the Titans throughout their first three years on the diamond.
Toll Gate coach Nick Durand was happy for his senior ballplayers and expected them to do big things early on.
“I’m not surprised, from the time I met them when they were freshman they have been dedicated to the sport. The play different sports, but baseball has always been No. 1. They love the game, they practice the game all year long, they always want to do a little bit more, I’m not surprised at all,” said Durand.
Durand was especially proud of the impact that the players made off the field while mentoring the young guys on the roster.
“We usually have one or two kids go off to play junior college or DIII, but never have we had this many kids go off to college to play. These guys, their work ethic has trickled down to the younger guys, we have five or six freshmen that are working out already. The younger guys are mirroring what these guys are doing and that’s what we have hoped for as a coaching staff,” said Durand.
Although the players are officially committed to their respective colleges, they will still hit the field at the high school level once last time this coming spring.
Durand hopes they will finish strong and has no doubt that they will be ready to compete for a state championship.
“We try to build a culture around a core, and the core changes every year. It’s always focused on the team and these kids embody that. I don’t foresee them losing that this season at all,” said Durand. “We’ll make sure their heads don’t get too big, they still have to compete, they still have a season to play for.”
Durand will also miss his senior players as they take the next step, and encourages them to learn as much as possible from their soon-to-be coaches.
“Be open to being coached. I don’t know half the stuff that some of these other guys know, so to be coached by them will help them gain a different perspective, new ideas,” said Durand. “As long as they’re open to listening and learning, their potential is endless.”