Kensington athlete Luciani peaking at right time

WEST HARTFORD -- Pitcher Taylor Luciani of Kensington, a senior at Northwest Catholic, signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Division I Quinnipiac University in November. Since then he has done everything to justify the Bobcats’ faith in him.

Luciani is 3-0 this spring for his 7-2 high school team. He has 29 strikeouts in 27 innings (at press time) and pitches to an earned run average of 1.81. Just for fun, he saved another game. Yet he is not a player who was on the college radar screens for a long time.

“He’s a late-bloomer type of kid,” said Northwest coach Cory Carlson. “He had a really strong season for Rob Manzo [coach] of the Berlin Legion team last summer and that caught college coaches’ attention. That, combined with his performances at some showcases, really got colleges, including Division I schools in the area, interested.”

His numbers for the Berlin Legion were impressive. He had five wins and a save for the Zone 3 team, struck out 49 in 47 innings and pitched to an ERA of 0.59.

“I went out for Legion at first just to see how I would do,” said Luciani. “But Rob Manzo and assistant coach Gary Val Etten were a great help to me. They put me in a position to be successful. I did well the first couple of times, then things just snowballed for the rest of the season.”

Luciani had an elbow injury -- nothing major -- in his sophomore summer, so sat out a couple of months. All of which set the stage for him to burst onto the scene last summer.

“I’ve pitched my whole life,” said Luciani. “But everything came together last year. But we would not be having this conversation if it were not for Dave Swanson [former Berlin High pitcher]. Since I was 12, he has been my personal coach and mentor. He taught me everything I know about baseball.”

Quinnipiac wasn’t the only school seeking Luciani’s services. The University of Hartford and Merrimack came down to the wire with Quinnipiac.

“As soon as I stepped on the campus of Quinnipiac, I felt like I belonged,” said Luciani. “It was a weird feeling, but I could have suited up to play right then.”

Bates College, Fairfield University, Marist and Fordham were also in the mix, but didn’t make Luciani’s final list.

“He got a pretty good package from Quinnipiac,” said Carlson. “He’s a very smart kid and will not only be in a good baseball program where hopefully he will be able to contribute right away, but he will also get a good education.”

Luciani, who transferred to Northwest after spending his freshman year at Berlin High, has made the Honor Roll every semester at the West Hartford school. He is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and has a 3.7 grade point average.

“I plan to major in political science; I love it,” said Luciani, who is the son of Tracey and Anthony Luciani. “Down the road I’d like to be in the FBI.”

All that can wait as Luciani has a more immediate task in front of him.

“I’m so happy to be playing for my high school team,” he said. “I just try to do the best I can. I’ve wanted to pitch for my high school team since I was five years old and ever since last summer, all I’ve thought about was pitching for my team this spring and so far, so good.

“We want to win the state championship,” he said. “Our team goals are to win our division, the Central Connecticut Conference West, then to win the Class S championship. That’s all we’re focused on. Personal stats are great, but they don’t matter at all. It’s the state championship that counts.”

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