TAMPA, FLA — Through great times and hard times, University of Tampa Spartans right hander Nick Nolan found his comfort zone on the mound.
Throughout his whole life, Nolan has been using two pitches that he learned in his younger days.
One of them, the knuckle curveball, came to him from a close source.
“Going back to when I was about 10 or 11, my little league coach taught me a knuckle curveball,” he said, at Wednesday practice. “He’s actually my best friend’s dad. So still to this day, whenever I see him, he’ll ask me, ‘Still throwing the knuckle curve?’ Stuff like that.”
Nolan also has had a chance to learn from major leaguers. After attending a Tampa Bay Rays baseball camp at age six, he learned a pitch that he also uses today.
“My first off-speed I learned was a circle change up. I still throw that today. I learned that at the Naimoli complex in St. Petersburg. I forget what pitching coach there was at the time but he taught me the circle change. I still throw it. ”
Spartans head coach Joe Urso enjoys what he sees in the senior right hander. Despite Nolan’s small decline due to a shoulder injury, Urso hopes to find a spot for him in the starting rotation.
“He put the work in this summer. [Nolan] went out, played summer ball, had a great summer with a low ERA and came back. This fall was one of the better falls he had. We’re starting to get his innings back up,” Urso said.
“He did really well against the [Philadelphia] Phillies, throwing 2 2/3 innings as well. I look to see him get a lot more important innings as we move into conference play.”
For the 2017 year, Nolan hopes to keep getting stronger and work his way to a national title.
“I’m just trying to be the best player that I can be and help the team win in any way possible,” he said, “because we want to get a ring at the end of the year.”