Riding the JV road to Spartans’ baseball glory

Goal is a spot on Tampa's top-rated varsity

Baseball player
University of Tampa Spartans varsity baseball athlete Aiden Nolasco winding down after practice at University of Tampa Stadium. (Photo by: Evan Davidson) 

TAMPA, Fla — Aiden Nolasco might just be the latest key to sustained varsity success for the University of Tampa Spartans baseball team. 

The sophomore infielder made the jump from junior varsity this season, and is more than excited to finally contribute to the club’s ongoing success.  

“Couldn’t ask for anything better to start the season,” said the Naples, Fla., native. “It’s just a dream come true and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.” 

The Spartans, coached by Joe Urso, got off to a program-record 17-0 start, surpassing their previous best in 2001, Urso’s first season at the helm. They finally dropped their first game this week, in extra innings.

Coming from the junior varsity squad, Nolasco’s journey differed from most on the team, and frankly he never envisioned himself being part of this tight-knit group. 

“I never pictured myself being here” he said after practice Wednesday. “It’s a rare opportunity to be promoted from the varsity team.” 

Brian O’Connell III holding a baseball bat.
Spartans junior varsity catcher Brian O’Connell III gets in extra work at the batting cage after practice. (Evan Davidson/Toronto Observer)

Nolasco was not the first to make the jump from JV, and will not be the last. Catcher Brian O’Connell III is a freshman from Greensboro, N.C., and hopes to be the next player promoted to the top squad. 

“I know one day that if I keep working here, coming in on the off days, and keep sticking to it, that I’ll be able to produce for coach Urso,” O’Connell said. “To have that next level up that I can always shoot for is very important to me.”

O’Connell opened his recruitment window towards the end of his junior year of high school, later than most, but it did not stop him from receiving multiple scholarship opportunities.

Although he had offers closer to home, one thing stood out the most. 

“I mean, to be honest, it’s Tampa. The weather’s awesome.”

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Posted: Mar 6 2024 9:10 pm
Filed under: Baseball College Sports