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Rams Pitcher Tanner Nolan Has A Bright Future

By

 Mark Zimmaro

THE CATHOLIC STAR HERALD

Tanner Nolan carries a lot on his shoulders each time he takes the mound for the Gloucester Catholic High School baseball team.

When times get tough during pressure moments, Nolan looks down at the word “Pop” stitched into his baseball glove and receives a boost of strength and confidence. A few years ago, Nolan lost his grandfather, who was a major supporter of his baseball career.

“It was a really hard time,” said Nolan, who is now a junior. “He was at a lot of my games. He was my support system, and I miss him a lot. But I have him stitched into my glove so I always have him with me whenever I’m on the mound. It’s always huge to have him on my side.”

The only thing stronger than Nolan’s pitching arm is his bond with his tight-knit family, which was a major factor in his decision to stay in New Jersey to play baseball at the collegiate level. Nolan had a list of choices of potential schools interested in his services, including a few down South, but he chose Rutgers University, which fit perfectly into his plans.

Nolan could be part of an up-and-coming Division 1 program while taking sports exercise and kinesiology classes in New Brunswick, just about an hour north of his home in Deptford.

“My whole life, I was thinking I might want to go far away, but then once it really comes down to it and you put it in your thought process, you think, ‘Do I really want to leave my family and be alone for four years, come home twice a year and not really see anybody?’ I thought it was a better fit here. I can still go away to college but I can come home whenever I want to.”

He made his college choice as a freshman, well before he even had his driver’s license. And Nolan will remain close to his best baseball memories, which are still being created. 

 

Nolan burst onto the high school baseball season last year as a sophomore after freshman year was canceled due to COVID-19. Nolan threw 43 innings and struck out 41 batters last year, getting the starts against South Jersey powerhouses like Bishop Eustace and Saint Augustine. He earned a spot on the Tri-Cape Carpenter Cup team and helped his team win the 35th annual tournament at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia.

He added a little zip to his pitches in the offseason and looks even better than before, with proof coming in a 2-1 win over Clearview on April 2 when Nolan threw six and two-thirds innings, striking out 11 batters.

“He’s as good as advertised,” Gloucester Catholic coach Dennis Barth said. “For a young kid, he’s got a great move to first [base]. He throws strikes and competes, and he’s only going to keep getting better.”

Gloucester Catholic entered the season as the top team in South Jersey according to some polls, and the Rams have their work cut out for them with a grueling schedule.

“It’s not where we are in the rankings at the beginning of the year,” said Barth, who entered his 21st year at Gloucester Catholic. “We want to be playing for a state championship. That’s our goal every year. This will be one of the toughest schedules we’ve ever played here. This will be good for us.”

Barth coached the Rams to more than 500 wins and nine state championships before taking a hiatus in 2012 to coach Rutgers-Camden and then returning during Nolan’s freshman year. Both have their sights set on scaling the mountain after the Rams were defeated in the South Jersey Non-Public B final by Holy Spirit last year.

“I’m really looking forward to this year,” Nolan said. “I think we have one of the best infields in the state. Our outfield is looking amazing. Everyone is playing well, and hopefully we can keep it up and do something with this year.”

Nolan has plenty of firepower behind him. And plenty of inspiration on his baseball glove.

“I love the bond we have on this team,” Nolan said. “We all play together really well. I love watching my team play, and having them behind me is my favorite part about it.”

 

published here with permission of The Catholic Star Herald

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