Producing Superb Debut Season for Xavier Baseball, PDS Alum Franzoni Shows Power Down the Stretch
X-MAN: Luke Franzoni takes a swing in a game this spring during his freshman season for the Xavier University baseball team. Former Princeton Day School standout Franzoni enjoyed a superb debut season for the Musketeers, batting .254 with a team-high 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 43 games. (Photo by Jason Whitman, provided courtesy of Xavier University)
By Bill Alden
Luke Franzoni produced a power surge in his senior season for Princeton Day School in 2018, batting .538 with 10 homers, and 25 RBIs in 18 games.
As Franzoni moved up the college level, joining the Xavier University baseball team this spring, he struggled in the early going with only one hit in his first 13 at-bats for the Musketeers.
But in Xavier’s home opener against Evansville on March 22, Franzoni regained his power stroke, going 2-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs.
“Being on the road for a long time, we all wanted to bring good energy for the first few home games,” said the 6’2, 185-pound Franzoni, who played both infield and outfield this spring for the Musketeers.
“We knew that they had a really good pitcher on the mound who was throwing pretty hard. I knew he was probably going to throw a lot of fastballs so I was trying to stay on top of that. The home run was to left center, that was a really good feeling for the first one. That was only my second hit of the season so getting it in that way, helping the team out and giving it energy was good.”
That performance proved to be a turning point for Franzoni as he kept helping the team out the rest of the spring, ending up batting .254 with a team-high 11 homers and 35 RBIs as Xavier posted a 27-31 overall record.
In reflecting on his progress, Franzoni attributed it to being more assertive at the plate.
“It was definitely getting the comfort level with the pitching and making a few adjustments over the season, mainly from an approach standpoint,” said Franzoni.
“My coaches helped me with that, being more aggressive earlier in the count. That is where I was hitting my best; I was jumping on the first pitch that I saw. It was tough in the beginning of the year when a lot of my at-bats were pinch hitting. I would be hesitant and take a pitch I felt I could have swung at.”
Beginning his college career with a February 15 game at traditional powerhouse North Carolina was a thrill for Franzoni.
“That was an awesome first experience, playing at a big school like that,” recalled Franzoni, who made a pinch hit appearance in the opener.
“They had some really good fans and it was a really cool atmosphere in that stadium for my first college game.”
A week later, Franzoni collected his first hit in a 7-1 win at Samford. “That was my first start and I was kind of nervous before that game when I saw that I was starting,” said Franzoni.
“At UNC, I didn’t have the greatest at-bat. It was good to have that hit and get a confidence builder. It was definitely an up-and-down season for me.”
Getting into BIG EAST play, Franzoni and the Musketeers did some great things as the squad posted a 12-4 league record and advanced to the final of the conference postseason tournament.
“Conference play was awesome, both teams were always super into it, even though our record didn’t show exactly what we wanted at the beginning of the season in terms of wins,” said Franzoni, who made the 2019 BIG EAST All-Tournament Team as an outfielder, batting .375 with three home runs with six RBIs.
“We played some really good teams early and we had some experience in hostile environments like Texas and Arizona State. We rode out that energy.”
A really good moment in BIG EAST play for Franzoni came when he faced former PDS teammate J.P. Radvany as Xavier played at Villanova in early May.
“That was fun, seeing him before the game,” said Franzoni of Radvany, who was playing at first base in his senior season for the Wildcats.
“My uncle [PDS baseball coach Brian Dudeck] was at the game. I knew some other kids on Villanova from playing summer ball with them. It was one of the first time I played against people I knew well.”
As Franzoni looks to build on his freshman campaign, he is currently playing summer ball for the Albany (N.Y.) Dutchmen of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL), hitting .242 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 22 appearances through July 14.
“It is definitely helping keep me sharp on an everyday basis,” said Franzoni, noting that his older brother Paul, a former PDS standout and rising junior star catcher at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is also playing in the league, competing for the Amsterdam Mohawks.
“I am starting to play a little bit of first base, just to learn that and to get some more experience there. Our first baseman was a senior this year, he was a really good player and we are just trying to replace him and I could play there. It is a little different than other positions; I am starting to get a little more comfortable there. I am also working on limiting strikeouts. My strikeout number was pretty high this year and I am just trying to stay consistent.”
Looking ahead to the 2020 season, Franzoni believes that Xavier can produce a higher level of play.
“For our team, we want to progress,” said Franzoni. “We made a good run in the playoffs this year, losing in the championship. Losing that sucked but I think it will give us a lot of hunger this year to continue working and getting better.”