Maddix Dalena commits to play at UConn for college baseball
Maddix Dalena and his mom got out of their car on the campus of the University of Connecticut, and a passer-by in another car shouted out to him. Dalena and his mom knew only one person in Storrs, and that one person happened to drive by as they arrived on campus.
The Montoursville junior saw the person in the car was family friend and Loyalsock graduate Hunter Webb, who is playing football for the Huskies. Webb gave the family as much of an inside tour of campus as he could.
Prior to the visit Dalena said Connecticut wasn’t even in his top five of schools he was considering to play college baseball. But between the campus visit and what he was hearing from the coaching staff, he knew UConn was where he wanted to be. And despite playing just one season of high school baseball, Dalena recently committed to playing college baseball for the Huskies.
“I had wanted to wait until I played in the Futures Game in August, but UConn called the week before and gave an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Dalena said. “I’m so excited to play there. When I called coach (Josh MacDonald) and said I wanted to be a Husky, he started going crazy.”
Despite missing his sophomore baseball season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dalena has had a busy summer on the travel and showcase circuit. He’s ranked by Prep Baseball Report as the top corner infielder in the state in the class of 2022.
Primarily a first baseman, Dalena hit .359 with a home run, double and eight RBIs for Montoursville as a freshman for district champion Montoursville in 2019. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Dalena is a power hitter to the core, topping out with a 99 mph exit velocity at one showcase earlier this summer.
Dalena used the summer to make up for the lost spring of baseball. When UConn expressed interest in him, he began to keep the coaches updated with when he’d be playing and where they could watch the live streams.
“I feel like I played probably the best I’ve ever played this summer,” Dalena said. “I was hitting home runs, I was hitting doubles. I played really well.”
Dalena had also received significant interest from Monmouth, where his brother, Jaxon, will be a freshman on the baseball team in the spring. But Dalena decided he wanted to forge his own path in college.
But he also leaned on his brother’s experience in the recruiting process. Jaxon has been a driving force behind Maddix putting in the work it took to get to the point of playing at the next level. And as much as he was intrigued by Monmouth’s interest, he wanted to take a different path than his brother.
“I’ve always been known as Jaxon’s little brother,” Maddix said. “I wanted to go my way and make my own name. I always have kind of followed in his footsteps, so I wanted to go on my own and make my own name. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. I wouldn’t be the baseball player I am.”
UConn played in the NCAA tournament in both 2018 and 2019, reaching the regional final each time. In 2011, the Huskies won the regional before losing in the super regional to eventual NCAA champion South Carolina.
Under coach Jim Penders, the Huskies have had 52 players either drafted or sign professional contracts, including three-time all-star and World Series MVP George Springer of the Houston Astros.
“It’s just beautiful up there,” Dalena said. “When I saw the field, I could picture myself there hitting bombs. And my mom wanted me to stay closer to home and it’s only a 5-hour drive and it’s a nice drive, not one of those boring drives. It’s just so nice up there.”