Last Updated: Thu Oct 28, 2021 - 12:18AM
Franklin Regional recently added another name to the list of Panthers to continue their career beyond high school, as catcher Thomas Nicely has made his decision to continue his academic and baseball career at Division III Penn State Behrend. Nicely was a part of a Franklin Regional team that captured the WPIAL Class 5A championship last spring, finishing with a 19-2 record.
“All of the hard work we put into practice every single day was a big factor in our success a season ago," Nicely said about the Panthers historic year. We were pushing each other every single day in practice to be the best we could be. A lot of us had been playing together for four or five years so we came into that season with that chemistry which was also a big part of our championship run.”
Winning the gold medal was impressive considering the team had not played a competitive game of baseball in over a year since the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the entirety of the 2020 season. The long layoff clearly did not phase Nicely and the Panthers who edged Bethel Park, 2-1, to win their third WPIAL title in school history and first since 2001.
“It was a big thing mentally for us that we had to re-teach ourselves things we knew and get back into a groove with your teammates,” said Nicely. “For me, it was getting with the pitching staff and re-learning how to help them if they are struggling. Our winter workouts were a big thing physically for us in preparing for the season.”
Despite baseball being a big part of his life, Nicely is also focused on preparing for life beyond baseball. That was a key factor in why he selected Penn State Behrend as the next destination in his career.
“I chose Penn State Behrend because for me it was the perfect college that gave me the best opportunities beyond my baseball career,” Nicely explained. “I’m going to be a business major, and they have a top 10 percent business school in the country. I know after my four years of going there and playing baseball there I’m going to have a Penn State degree and I felt it was a perfect place for me to grow as a person.”
Nicely has been instrumental in the Panthers success, which includes a combined 37-5 overall team record over the last two seasons. He and his teammates are aware of what this season will be like coming in to the year being the defending champs in class 5A, and what it will take to repeat in 2022.
“We have to keep the mentality of nothing is going to be given to us, we have to work hard and we have to take what we want. We are WPIAL champions, but teams are going to be shooting for us because we beat a lot of teams last year.”
Westmoreland Recruiting News
Eighth-grader Erica Gribble was offered a Division I basketball scholarship by St. Joseph's in Philadelphia this week. Erica is the youngest of three Gribble sisters, all basketball standouts, with oldest sister Alayna currently playing her final year at St. Joseph's. Middle sister Olivia is a sophomore at Marietta. Erica, who lives in Irwin, currently attends Greensburg Central Catholic while her sisters are both Norwin graduates. She's not sure where she will attend high school next year.
Former Franklin Regional wide receiver Mike Evans has decided to transfer from Robert Morris. Since entering the transfer portal, Evans has gotten offers from Glenville State and West Liberty plus received interest from other schools as well.
Southmoreland senior Kory Ansell visited Mercyhurst on Saturday. Ansell is a 6-2, 285-pound lineman.
- Recruiting Wednesday: Aiden Dunlap Hempfield Area baseball player Dunlap chooses Youngstown State
- Recruiting Wednesday: Thomas Nicely Franklin Regional baseball standout Nicely commits to Penn State Behrend
- Recruiting Wednesday: Ryan Hood Derry's Ryan Hood will continue his baseball career at Gannon
- Mears One-on-One Hannah Mears talks with Colorado Rockies draft pick Zach Kokoska of Latrobe
- Penn-Trafford Junior Legion Wins State Title Warriors defeat Connellsville 6-0 to capture Junior Legion state championship