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Rossi ready for new journey with pro team in New Mexico

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Clarion University athletics
Gateway graduate Matt Rossi will play baseball professionally this spring and summer with the Taos Blizzard in New Mexico.

In a couple of weeks, Matt Rossi will begin his latest baseball journey, as the graduate of Gateway High School and Clarion University will embark on a professional career west of the Mississippi River.

Rossi is one of the newest members of the Taos Blizzard, a team from New Mexico that plays in the independent Pecos League.

The dream of most every young baseball player is to one day play the game professionally. That was Rossi's dream, and he said he's excited for what lies ahead.

“It is something I've been working to for a long time, and things really fell into place when I got a hold of everybody to make this happen,” Rossi said.

The Pecos League is an independent baseball league similar to the Frontier League that his home to the Washington Wild Things.

“It's a newer league that has only been around for a couple of years, but it is an up-and-coming league,” Rossi said.

Rossi got some information about tryouts, and the ball got rolling.

“One of my friends I played with played in the league last year, and he called me up to see if I was interested in playing,” Rossi said.

Rossi joins the Taos Blizzard after a strong collegiate career at Clarion.

He battled through injury while in college, and as a senior, he finished as an all-conference player for the second time.

He is Clarion's all-time home-run leader with 20, and he also ranks third in school history with 106 RBI, second with 165 hits, third with 87 runs scored and third with 260 total bases.

Rossi played in the second-most games ever by a Clarion player (167).

He finished with a .319 career average.

“It's a weird feeling not being at Clarion or on the team this year,” Rossi said.

“I've seen some of the guys, been to a couple of games and talked to them almost every day to see what's going on. They're struggling right now, but I know they will improve.”

Rossi is in Monroeville preparing for the move out to New Mexico in a week or two.

“I'm really looking forward to getting out there and get into the swing of things,” he said.

“It's another baseball team. I've been doing it my whole life, so it's the start of another journey.”

Taos' season begins May 15, and the team will play 70 games in 72 days.

Rossi measures the love of the game with the hectic schedule.

“I've played doubleheaders two or three times a week in college, but this is a little different,” Rossi said.

“I don't know if or when fatigue might set in. I've never experienced anything like this before.”

Clarion played Bloomsburg a number of times over the past several seasons, and one of Rossi's new teammates is Vincent Smarrelli, a Bloomsburg graduate who played for the Huskies baseball team through the 2012 season.

“We played Bloomsburg my last year at Clarion (2012), but I don't remember playing against him,” Rossi said.

“I didn't know anything about him. They just posted this year's roster not too long ago, and I did see that he was on it. Hopefully, we will have that Pennsylvania connection.”

Rossi said new Blizzard manager, Matt Leahy, assembled the team with a distinct east-coach flavor.

He said he is familiar with Leahy from his time in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

“The way coach Leahy put the team together, I think we can be pretty successful,” Rossi said.

For more information on the Taos Blizzard, visit www.taosblizzard.com.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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