John Riccio's love for game takes him to Rosemont College

John Riccio signed to play baseball at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania in a ceremony at Shelton High. Joining him were brother Luke, sister Mikayla, mom Lucille, brother Michael and dad Mike.

John Riccio signed to play baseball at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania in a ceremony at Shelton High. Joining him were brother Luke, sister Mikayla, mom Lucille, brother Michael and dad Mike.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

Shelton baseball player John Riccio is accustomed to taking on a new role.

Rosemont (PA) College is offering a new first to the 2021 Shelton graduate. Next season will be the inaugural season for the Division III Ravens, who play in the Colonial States Athletic Conference Division III.

“As a freshman coming in, I think it is the best position to be in,” Riccio said. “Coach Ross Trachtenberg knows his baseball. Hands down he was the best coach I talked with. I went to visit in mid-January. I loved the school and committed in March. It a first-class program for all sports.”

Riccio is a tried and true Shelton Gael.

“Playing baseball for Shelton is all I ever wanted,” said Riccio, who played second base for coach Scott Gura. “From Little League on up baseball has been great. I’ve been with the same teammates since I was 8, 9 years old. It’s been fun with these guys.”

Shelton went 10-8 in the SCC. It split two Class LL state games.

“We had a good group of kids. We only had two who had played varsity baseball in Anthony Steele and Max McLoughlin,” said Riccio, one of seven new starters. “We knew that we had nothing to lose. Coach Gura told us to go out have fun and try to win. It was a fun year. We beat the No. 1 team in the state in Hand. We beat Amity which was a great win. The Xavier playoff win was a great win as well. We couldn’t get over Warde (3-2). It was a tough loss, especially on a bunt.”

Gura said: “John was our leadoff batter. I think if you had a most improved player during the year it was John. He established himself at the top of order. He was second on the team in on-base percentage at .453. He had 18 hits. He batted .305 and led team in walks.”

Batting at the top of the order was a career-first for Riccio.

“It was a new experience and probably the best experience I’ve had,” Riccio said. “I started season batting nine, which I look at as a second leadoff. The other team’s mindset is to give you fastballs. If I got on that brought up the top of order. After COVID hit a couple of players, Coach Gura moved me up.”

To Riccio, staying focused is critical to a player’s success.

“Baseball is 100 percent a mental game,” he said. “If you let it affect you mentally then you won’t get through it. The mental aspect is the fun part of it. Positioning yourself in the infield depending on what the batter has done. Thinking ahead on every pitch. At bat, knowing how they pitched you the last time.”

Choosing a field of study in college was easy for Riccio, an honor roll student.

“I’ll be studying special education and sports management. I worked with United Sports. I did my Capstone project with special education and I learned a lot,” Riccio said of the two-semester process where students pursue independent research to better understand a field or topic.

Riccio is playing for his dad Mike this summer with the Legion team.

“Dad has coaching me my whole life. I go out and give 100 percent no matter who the coach is. It never feels different. He makes it easy and fun. I know what he expects,” Riccio said. “My mom Lucille is my biggest supporter. She has been there every day for me.”

Rosemont College

Ross Trachtenberg spent five seasons at West Chester University as an assistant coach before Rosemont. "Rosemont Baseball presents a unique opportunity to ball players looking to be an immediate and integral member of a college baseball team,” Trachtenberg wrote on rosemont-ravens.com. “Rosemont College is designed to give each student individual attention and support to be successful. My goal in building a baseball program is to mirror that philosophy. I could not be more excited and optimistic about the future of Rosemont College Baseball.” Rosemont athletic director Joe Pavlow stated: “When building a new program, instilling the right culture is critical, and Ross has great experience with this. Being a part of a program with a national championship pedigree at West Chester is something that will help Ross build the foundation of our program here at Rosemont.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354