Cipolla and Murray to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer.
By Lauren Leary
Special to GoHolyCross.com
It's no secret for student-athletes that once their collegiate season has ended, they are still by no means finished with their training. For spring season sports in particular, the summer months offer athletes an opportunity to solely focus on their sport without the added stress of school work. This is especially prevalent for baseball players, whose collegiate season's end is still fresh in their mind, and who often join a summer league in which they play with a new team, in a new location. This summer, two Holy Cross baseball players have been asked to participate in the highly selective Cape Cod Baseball League, which is widely recognized as the premier amateur league in the country. They join five other Holy Cross baseball players who have played in the CCBL over the past five seasons. Student-athletes who are asked to play for the league show great promise in their baseball career, as several major league all-stars are Cape League alums. This year, the honor of traveling to play on the Cape was bestowed upon sophomore right handed pitcher Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.) and junior outfielder Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.), who will both be playing for the Falmouth Commodores.
The Crusaders are coming off undoubtedly one of Holy Cross' best seasons to date, with a regular season Patriot League title giving way to a top seed in the tournament. After facing a loss in the Patriot League Championship to Army, Murray and Cipolla are looking forward to their time in the Cape League, but are also appreciative of the school that has gotten them to this point. Both players point to their supportive coaches and teammates as key reasons why the Crusaders have achieved such a high level of success this year.
"The best part about playing for Holy Cross in terms of the team is the culture and mentality the coaches have brought to it," Cipolla said. "Everyone comes ready to play and wants to be there every day, making practice, lifts and games that much more enjoyable to be a part of."
Murray agrees, citing the rigorous academics, as well as the tough training schedule as key reasons why their team has bonded so well. "I chose Holy Cross for its prestigious academics and competitive baseball program," he said. "Coach DiCenzo instills such a competitive demeanor in each of us during the fall and winter that come spring, we know we will always be tougher than any opponent. I couldn't imagine playing baseball anywhere else, because I know that this team is the perfect fit for me and each of the other 31 players."
Murray and Cipolla, who were also teammates at Boston College High School, will be making their Cape League debut together for the Falmouth Commodores. The high-level competition they will see this summer is not lost on the two athletes, as they anticipate a season of fast-paced, mentally and physically draining play. With both of them hailing from towns in Massachusetts, they recall several summers of watching Cape League games. "Finding out at the end of this past summer that I was going to be playing for Falmouth next year was an incredible thrill," Murray said. "I cannot wait to be playing for and against the teams I grew up watching each summer. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to pitch for the Commodores."
Cipolla, in agreement with Murray's excitement for playing on the Cape, cites the proximity of the league to his home as one of the key factors in his anticipation. "What I'm looking forward to most about playing in the Cape League this summer is the opportunity to play baseball in one of the top summer leagues in the country, while being able to stay relatively close to home," he said. "With the Cape being about an hour away it'll be great that my family and friends have the opportunity to come and see some games this summer."
Though Murray and Cipolla will spend their summer training with some of the most elite college baseball players in the country, they are thankful that they will be returning to the Hill in the fall. Both are proud to call the close-knit Holy Cross community home for at least one more academic year. "Having the chance to play college baseball on a team of 30 other guys who I can all call my closest friends at school is another aspect of why I enjoy playing at Holy Cross," Cipolla said.
With the anticipation of the Cape League, as well as another year on the Hill to look forward to, the athletic and academic careers of these two student-athletes seem to be on a fast track to success. There is no question that the foundation they have built during their time at Holy Cross both on and off the field will stay with them throughout their time in the Cape League. "I'm so excited each spring to know I get to come out and play side-by-side with my best friends every day," Murray said about his time at Holy Cross. "When you step onto Fitton Field as a freshman, you become part of the family here, and that is my favorite part about playing for Holy Cross."
Opening day for the regular season of the Cape Cod Baseball League is on June 12th.