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Seton Hill third baseman Sell's career turning golden

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Seton Hill junior and North Allegheny graduate Nick Sell, posing for a portrait, hit.431 with 13 homers and 57 RBIs last season.
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Ten to watch

District players who are expected to have a significant impact in 2014:

• Aaron Cox, sophomore, Gannon: Right-hander posted a 7-1 record and a 2.50 ERA as a true freshman. … Struck out 81 in 72 innings.

• Mick Fennell (Butler), sophomore, California (Pa.): A dual threat for the Vulcans. … hit .322 while also posting a 2.64 ERA and five complete games on the mound. … On the preseason watch list for the Tino Martinez Award, given to the top player in Division II.

• Alex Haines (Hempfield), senior, Seton Hill: Lefty was drafted in the 33rd round by Colorado Rockies last year. … No. 26 on Baseball America's list of top collegiate seniors and No. 5 on publication's list of top D2 players. … Had 2.35 ERA, 91 K in 762⁄3 IP last year

• Shane Healey (Penn Hills), junior, LaRoche: Finished seventh in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference with .361 batting average. … Led conference with 60 hits, second with 41 runs scored and third with 72 total bases

• Will Kengor (Central Catholic), senior, Slippery Rock: Led PSAC and was in the top five nationally with .449 batting average. … Voted third-team All-American by both American Baseball Coaches Association and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

• Eddie Nogay, senior, W&J: Reigning PAC Pitcher of the Year after posting 12-1 record with 3.01 ERA. … D3baseball.com and ABCA All-American in 2013. … Has lost just one game in career at W&J (22-1).

• Matt Peters, junior, California (Pa.): Shortstop hit .346 with 27 RBIs and 33 runs scored while starting every game. … Included on the Tino Martinez Award watch list.

• Josh Staniscia (Franklin Regional), senior, W&J: Outfielder has just one error in 256 chances in career with Presidents. … Led team with 66 hits while batting .371 in 2013. … Has played all 132 games in first three seasons, starting 130.

• Dylan Tice, junior, IUP: Led Crimson Hawks with 67 hits, 42 RBIs and five homers last year while hitting .362. … Named league and postseason MVP in Futures Collegiate Baseball League this past summer … First-team all-PSAC last season.

• Jake Warner, senior, Pitt-Johnstown: Second-team NCBWA All-American. .. Led the Mountain Cats in batting average (.420), hits (74) runs (46), RBIs (40), and total bases (99). … Ranked third in Division II in toughest to strike out.


By Chuck Curti

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:54 p.m.

As a 160-pound shortstop at North Allegheny, Nick Sell hardly looked the part of a budding star. The swing was sound, but the body, and — by Sell's admission — the work ethic left a lot to be desired.

Sell, in fact, used the word “underachiever” to describe himself as a high school player.

But as this season dawns, he can use a different term in front of his name: Golden Spikes nominee.

A junior third baseman at Seton Hill, Sell is on the 60-player preseason watch list for college baseball's most prestigious award. He earned the recognition after hitting .431 with 13 homers, 57 RBIs and 26 stolen bases and being named to two publications' first-team All-America squads last year. He's one of just seven non-Division I players on the Golden Spikes list.

“I will admit I did not,” said Griffins coach Marc Marizzaldi when asked if he could foresee this type of production from Sell. “I think what's made a big difference for Nick is the physical development.

“You hear about a lot of college athletes that have to grow into their body. With Nick, he needed to grow into his swing.”

Sell has packed 30 pounds onto his 6-foot-1 frame since arriving at Seton Hill, and the results have been obvious. He has hit 24 homers in two college seasons after hitting just one in high school.

“I definitely benefited from figuring out where the weight room was, that's for sure,” Sell said. “I didn't really work hard (in high school). It kind of clicked for me coming to college and seeing other guys and realizing that nothing is going to be handed to you.”

His career at Seton Hill has not been without adversity. He missed the Griffins' fall seasons following his freshman and sophomore years because of injuries.

He had reconstructive ankle surgery in November and said he is now back at 100 percent.

Sell and the Griffins face an additional challenge this season: They are first-year members of the PSAC after moving from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. But as a team that came one game short of the Division II World Series in 2013, Seton Hill already has earned the respect of its new foes. The Griffins were picked to win the PSAC West.

“In the new conference, I'm definitely going to see some better arms and some better pitching, and guys will be able to locate and not make mistakes,” he said.

“I don't think there's very much of an adjustment at all from a hitting standpoint. I think the only thing that might change is patience at the plate and pitch selection.”

Sell admits his dream always has been to play baseball professionally. Marizzaldi said scouts' interest in Sell has been minimal, but “it's just a matter of the right guy seeing him on the right day.”

Sell, meanwhile, doesn't consume himself with the thought of being drafted. Nor is he preoccupied with being on the Golden Spikes list.

It's just something else to use as motivation.

“I've seen some other preseason stuff and other lists I've been on, and this one's pretty prestigious, and I'm definitely honored to be on that,” he said. “But, ultimately, preseason hype and all that stuff is something I'm not a huge fan of. But it's kind of like having to play with something to prove, and I can use it to my advantage.”

Chuck Curti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ccurti@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


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