Nally’s Dedication Key Asset in Baseball, Football Franklin Senior to Play 2 Sports at Wesleyan

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Franklin High School senior Jack Nally will take his strong work ethic to Wesleyan this fall, where he plans to play both football and baseball. Contributed photo
Issue Date: 
April, 2020
Article Body: 

Jack Nally has excelled in football and baseball at Franklin High, and after his final season of baseball this spring, the 18-year-old senior will be aiming for more success in both sports at Wesleyan.
Playing two sports at the collegiate level is challenging, especially as a freshman. But, the honor-roll student is optimistic he can succeed in both venues.
“I’m confident I can do it,’’ he said. “I’m passionate about both sports, and I don’t have a favorite. The best route is at a Division 3 school. I visited Wesleyan twice and was very impressed. The college’s football and baseball coaches were supportive and encouraging. Dan DiCenzo, the football coach, informed me that he played two sports at Williams.’’
Wesleyan’s interest in Nally isn’t surprising. He was a member of the Super 8 championship baseball squad as a sophomore centerfielder in 2018, and for 2½ seasons in football, he competed at wide receiver, defensive back, running back and kickoff returner.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Nally gained 2,300 all-purpose yards, scored 18 touchdowns, had 1,300 yards receiving and set a school record for receptions (127). In baseball, he hit .303 as a sophomore, dropped to .257 last year as the leadoff hitter but had an on-base percentage of .452 (24 walks).
A captain in both sports, Nally’s prime goal for his final baseball season is to win the Super 8 crown. “I’d like to win the Hockomock League title and get a berth into the Super 8 Tournament again,’’ Nally said. “We won that crown two years ago, and it would mean a lot to repeat. That title would show resiliency and would be a great way to cap off my senior year.’’
Nally’s strengths on the diamond are many. He’s quick, is a leader, has a high baseball IQ and he’s mentally tough.
Baseball coach Zach Brown is glad Nally is back for another campaign. “Jack is a productive player,’’ Brown noted. “He’s got speed, gets a good jump in the outfield, and he’s rock solid on defense. A contact hitter, he sets the tone for our offense. A leader by example, Jack has earned the respect of his teammates because of his energy and work ethic.’’
Nally’s batting average dropped last year, but he’s confident he’ll bounce back. “I changed my stance after my sophomore season,’’ he said. “And, going from a low position in the order to leadoff may have played a role. I’ve returned to my previous stance, and I’m hoping to improve at the plate.’’
Nally’s offensive style is deliberate, and he’s smooth on defense. “I like to make a pitcher work, and I’m content to wait for a good pitch,’’ he emphasized. “On defense, I rely on quickness and always try to get a good first step. I also like to communicate in the outfield.’’
A native of Lincoln, R.I., Nally has high praise for his coach and Franklin’s other captains. “Pitchers Brennan Rivera and Liam Dailey are experienced, talented and quality leaders,’’ said Nally. “Both are league all-stars. Coach Brown helps players excel on and off the field. He’s a top-notch motivator who’s highly respected.’’
Nally’s best game was against King Philip in Franklin’s opener last year. “We won, and I was able to get a triple, double and a walk,’’ he recalled. “My top thrill in baseball is knowing how fortunate I am to have one more season with good teammates and a respected coaching staff.’’
Nally and Franklin flirted with Super Bowl appearances the last two years. The Panthers lost to Catholic Memorial last fall, failing to advance to Gillette Stadium. As a junior, Nally and his teammates fell to Xaverian in two overtimes, bowing out of the playoff semifinals.
“It was disappointing to miss out on a Super Bowl but we had a two-year stretch where coach (Eian) Bain turned the program around by building a winning culture,’’ Nally said. “My most memorable game was against Attleboro as a junior. We were down a touchdown. I scored with five minutes to go to tie it, then caught a pass for 50 yards with two minutes to go to win it.’’
Relying on a competitive philosophy that focuses on having fun, reaching his potential and playing to win, Nally knows that athletics have taught him valuable life lessons. “I’ve learned to be a good teammate, to be a capable leader, how to overcome adversity and to be mentally tough,’’ he said.
A transfer from Xaverian halfway through his freshman year, Nally missed half his sophomore season of football when he injured his shoulder. His health, however, has been a plus from that point on.
“Jack will be a success no matter what path he chooses,’’ Bain said. “There’s no doubt about that. He’s mature, talented, dependable and committed.’’
Now in the final lap of his athletic career, Nally cherishes the memories, especially the Super 8 championship. “That was a wonderful achievement,’’ he said. “And, I played for two great coaches (Brown and Bain) and had excellent teammates.’’
What lies ahead for Nally at Wesleyan will be grueling. He’ll play football in the fall, spend the winter getting ready for baseball, compete during the spring on the diamond, then prepare for football during the summer.
“I’m confident it’ll work,’’ Nally said. “I chose Wesleyan, because I believe I can do well athletically and academically.’’
Jack Nally doesn’t shy away from a challenge. That’s why he was a two-sport captain and a two-time Hockomock League all-star in football. His work ethic speaks volumes and it also gets results.