ICYMI, Community Corner: Future Purple Eagle leads Wolverines

Matt Grace is excited to continue his career at Niagara

Back in December, at the Niagara Falls High School fieldhouse, Wolverines shortstop and pitcher Matthew Grace signed his national letter of intent to play baseball at Niagara University. The future Purple Eagle, sporting a purple tie donated by his teammate Pat Sisler, made his decision in front of his family, coaches and teammates.

Grace will continue his baseball career and education at Niagara University for the next four years. He intends to pursue a degree in mathematics because of his skill at the subject and he hopes to have a future as either a math teacher or engineer.

Grace, a senior at Niagara Falls, is in his third year as a varsity starter. In three games, so far, Grace is batting .429 with a homerun and 3 RBIs. In two starts on the mound, Grace has a 0.66 ERA and 22 strikeouts.

In his career at Niagara Falls, Grace has hit .313 with 19 doubles, 3 homeruns and scored 37 runs. On the mound, he has contained a 2.64 ERA and struck out 87 batters.

Former head coach and current Niagara Falls athletic director, Joe Contento, praised highly of Grace and his accomplishments at his signing.

“The school district and the baseball program are so proud of Matt,” Contento said. “His hard work and dedication has led him to this division one scholarship. I remember bringing him up as a sophomore, some great memories we’ve made, I still reminisce about the Lancaster game. (Grace pitched the Falls to a win in the sectional semi-finals)”

Contento also added that Grace went on to become a leader in his junior year and that bigger and brighter things will happen this year and he can’t wait to see it all take place.

Current head baseball coach, Rob Augustino, also spoke very highly of Grace and looks forward to a big senior year.

“I expect nothing less than what he’s brought already,” Augustino said. “He’s the main position on the field at shortstop, and he’s going to be our ace pitcher. I expect to anchor not only our pitching staff but also our batting lineup.”

Augustino also labeled Grace as an “example kid” and someone that other players can look up to.

“Since day one, he has shown leadership and intensity,” Augustino said. “He’s always leading the team through workouts, along with being the hardest working kid and he is the kind of kid you’d hope to be getting a scholarship. He’s that example kid that shows the younger guys on the team how to be a ball player.”

In the Wolverines season opening win against North Tonawanda, Grace proved his status as an “example kid,” by striking out 15 batters. He contributed at the plate as well, going 2-2 with a 3-run homerun and 3 runs scored.

The decision to attend Niagara seemed to be a very easy one for Matt and it was also a nice feeling for his family as well

“It’s a familiar school, the baseball team is up-and-coming, a lot of people I know are going there, the coaches are pretty cool and getting offered a full ride is hard to pass up.” Grace said.

His parents, Linda and William Grace, also thought it was very nice for Matt to choose Niagara based on their background in the city.

“We grew up in the Falls and grew up watching Calvin Murphy play for Niagara, always going to different NU games, and now we’re very excited to be able to see Matt play there.” Linda and William said.

There is also much more to the family background for Grace. His brother, Adam, also played baseball at Niagara Falls, as a catcher before graduating in 2010. Adam was an all-state and all-region selection, as well as Niagara Frontier League first team winner as a Wolverine. He received a scholarship to play at Genesee Community College where he spent a year, then went to Erie Community College before going to Ashland University.

Linda Grace said, as a parent, to see Adam and now Matt sign to continue their baseball careers, she feels very fortunate and proud.

Matt said it’s been his goal to advance his baseball career and follow in Adam’s footsteps ever since he’s seen his brother play.

Grace also had high praise for everyone who helped him get to where he is today as a person and player, notably past and current coaches as well as family.

“I’d have to say thanks, I mean everything that anyone does shapes who you are,” Grace said.

Grace and the Wolverines are currently 2-2 on the year, and have the bar set high to make a third straight sectional finals appearance.


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