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Occhipinti Loves The Idea Of Playing College Baseball Near Home

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Occhipinti Loves The Idea Of Playing College Baseball Near Home

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Derek Occhipinti SS / RHP / Westlake, OH / 2024

WESTLAKE - While on a college tour on the education side of things, Derek Occhipinti found a potential home to play baseball.

“I was on a normal tour of the school and my summer coach texted their coach and said ‘this kid’s there, can you meet him’,” the Westlake senior reflected back to his visit to the University of Akron. “They have a good business school and the tour was just a way of seeing the campus.”

Akron ended up watching the eighth-ranked 2024 shortstop in Ohio play in-game and things heated up from there.

“They liked what they saw and a week-and-a-half later offered,” Occhipinti related. “I committed 21/2 weeks after that. I took a tour of the facilities and it felt like home. With (assistant) coach (Danny) Marcuzzo I’m in a great spot with how he handles himself, with how he’s very kind and polite and with how he made it feel like home to me.”

The 6-4 198-pounder made an impression on the coaches at the Mid-American Conference program.

“They love my size and athletic ability,” noted Occhipinti, who plays shortstop in high school and mainly short in the summer while also seeing time at second base.

It wasn’t until this past summer that the 76th-rated senior in the state drew a lot of notice from colleges.

“After the Top Prospect Games I definitely got more interest,” explained Occhipinti. “My recruiting process was pretty slow up until that point, but after that I went to Indiana for a tournament and got a lot more interest and a lot more phone calls. Now I have a home in Akron.”

Recent improvement proved vital in making it all happen, with schools like Canisius and Findlay among those that took a liking to Occhipinti.

“I always thought about college baseball when I was a little kid, but it didn’t become realistic until July of last year when I got a little interest,” Occhipinti said. “It picked up from there. I definitely got a lot stronger. I was 185 then and now I’m 198. I’m also putting more preparation into how I play.”

The Westlake High School senior pointed to coaches Larry Mosley and Jeremy Coleman as instrumental in helping find a college fit.

“I love that it’s close to home where I get to see my family,” Occhipinti related. “We’re so tight, so this is a nice convenience.”

The 17-year-old believes he can be a major asset to the Akron program.

“I’ll bring leadership to the team,” Occhipinti said. “I’m a fun guy to be around, my teammates will enjoy my presence. I’m also serious when it comes time to get it done.”

A major in accounting is the plan for Occhipinti, a 3.3 student who is relieved to have found a future home.

“It was pretty surreal and very exciting,” Occhipinti said of making his college commitment. “My lifelong dream happened and my family was there for it. It was a great experience.”

Occhipinti sees more great times ahead.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know my teammates and developing more as a player,” Occhipinti concluded. “I know we have some dudes in this recruiting class that will help the program in the future.”

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