SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

April 19, 2014

Jean DePlacido column: DiFranco flourishes in new role at Bates

Rob DiFranco has a new role — and the Bates College sophomore loves every minute of it.

He is being called upon to pitch in relief during pressure situations for the Bobcats, much different from his high school career at St. John’s Prep when he was a starter.

He has appeared in eight games this spring, has a 2-1 record with 20 strikeouts in 122/3 innings pitched and an ERA of 2.84. DiFranco has allowed six runs, but only four were earned.

“I either close a game or come on in relief situations like one out and runners on second and third,” said the Melrose resident. “I’ve been doing it since my freshman year; by now I’m used to it mentally.

“Things have been going pretty good for us even though a lot of our games were postponed because of the weather. Snow always lasts a long time in Maine. We went to Georgia in February and were supposed to start off with three games at home against Tufts, but actually our home opener was a lot later this week with a doubleheader against Fisher. We had to play Bowdoin at Southern Maine because that was the only place with a field not covered by snow. It’s been tough, but we’re clicking now and have a huge three game series with Trinity (this weekend).”

A psychology major with a minor in education, DiFranco would like to pursue a career in sports psychology or possibly as an athletic director after graduate school. He’d love to coach one day, too.

For the second straight summer, he’ll be back playing baseball locally for the North Shore Navigators in Lynn.

“Last year I signed late with only three or four weeks left (in the season). I’m looking forward to playing the whole season,” said DiFranco. “There’s a lot of talent in the league, and Jon Cahill is a great coach. I enjoy facing Division 1 talent, guys from all over that make you rise to the level of competition.

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