RHAM senior Mike Poncini signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Quinnipiac University. Poncini pictured with his father, Tom, and mother, Denise.
Mike Poncini, a senior at RHAM, has committed to play baseball at Quinnipiac University.
Poncini has been a versatile player for the Raptors, serving as an ace pitcher and reliable hitter, and also played in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League in the summer.
“I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that can go with it,” Poncini said about continuing his passion in college. “Hopefully I can play beyond college baseball. That’s what I want to do with my life is play baseball.”
Quinnipiac, a Division I program, has become a beading ground for baseball talent. The university has had 23 players drafted by major league teams and 32 players play professionally since 1968.
Paul Steiner, who coached Poncini since he was a freshman, said the 6’3” prospect has all the tools to be successful at the next level.
“Mike is extremely gifted. He looks to improve all the time and everything that he is getting right now is a process of all the little things; hitting the weight room, trying to stay in shape, getting stronger. These are all things that have allowed him to get to this point,” said Steiner. “I think he’s just hitting the tip of the iceberg.”
Poncini is a homegrown product, who grew up in Hebron and chose to attend RHAM even though some of his friends departed for other schools, including private schools. .
“I was one of the only ones that stayed here. I definitely don’t regret it. Being able to play with these guys throughout high school is important. I’m glad I stayed here,” said Poncini.
After missing his sophomore year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Poncini became a regular starter, pitching in some big spots, and consistently delivering from the plate.
His pitching coach at RHAM, Evan Chamberlain, saw a big improvement over the last two years.
“His body got bigger, he grew, he got stronger. His velocity started getting better and he developed some of his pitches,” said Chamberlain. “He’s also becoming a leader and someone we look to as a go to guy.”
Poncini used the 2020-cancellation to improve both physically and mentally.
“I was really close with the 2020 senior class and seeing how disappointed they were not having a senior season made me take my junior season to heart and it’s the same thing going into my senior season.”
Prior to starting his final high school season on the mound, Poncini is playing basketball at RHAM for the first time this winter, expanding his horizons and keeping himself in shape for the spring.
Bill Eller, who had previously served as an assistant with the program, is back as the new head baseball coach at RHAM. He inherits a team that won a dozen games a season ago.
“I think we’ll have a good year. We lost a lot of key seniors, two of which are playing Division III, so it will be tough to fill those spots, but we have some younger kids that can step in,” said Poncini.
Next year Poncini will be suiting up with the Bobcats, continuing to live out his baseball dream playing for head coach John Delany, who is entering his eighth season at Quinnipiac.
Poncini said the coaching staff, particularly pitching coach Pat Egan, was a big reason he chose the Hamden-based university.
“I thought the coaches were easy going at first and I went on an official visit and got to watch a practice and it wasn’t so easy going. I like that in coaches, I like to be pushed,” said Poncini.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin