Home Sports Local Sports From Lions-Hondo to Roswell and now USW

From Lions-Hondo to Roswell and now USW

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Former Roswell baseball player Nick Palomino is now a member of the University of the Southwest baseball team in Hobbs. (Submitted Photo)

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Nick Palomino knows that getting through New Mexico Military Institute was not as easy as camping out under a flyball in right field and throwing a runner out at second base. He was tested in more than just baseball, he was tested in every way imaginable.

Roswell outfielder and relief pitcher Nick Palomino looks for the sign from his catcher as he prepares to throw a full-count pitch to a Santa Teresa batter in the bottom of the seventh inning during a 2017 game in Artesia. Palomino fought back from a 3-0 count to get the final out of the game. (Daily Record File Photo)

Coming out of high school, Nick helped Roswell make it to the playoffs and was coached by Carlos Marrujo, who would end up leaving Roswell after Nick’s sophomore year and go to NMMI as an assistant coach. Marrujo kept in touch with Nick and would help guide him to NMMI, by believing that he could play there and was smart enough to graduate.

“Nick is a hard worker and a dedicated competitor,” former Roswell head coach and current NMMI assistant baseball coach Carlos Marrujo III said. “He would run through a wall if you asked him to. I knew he could handle NMMI because he had grit and a good head on his shoulders.

Nick felt like it took him 21 days to realize NMMI was serious about what they were doing. He knows how different it felt going to NMMI right out of high school and was scared. He was not used to being told what to do and when to do it. Nick remembers what it was like to go through RAT week.

“It was a struggle,” Nick said. “I’m not going to lie. I got through it because I love baseball so much. I was waiting for school and when baseball and school started picking up, it got that much easier. I fell in love with what I did over there, and I did what I had to do.”

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During that week he felt it was a struggle. He had to shave off all his hair, and he had to run everywhere. The thing he will never forget is having to wear high tube socks that he had to pull up over his knees. He had to square his corners on his bed and had to ask permission to do things.

“Honestly, I was not prepared for college coming out of high school,” Nick said. “I had to learn and if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. That school has prepared me for everything. It has given me time management and discipline.”

Nick was not expected to do so much with school and baseball but learned time management. He credits his family with being there to support him, his family encouraged him to be strong and that he could make it.

When Nick graduated from NMMI, he felt a sense of pride and that he could overcome any obstacle that life threw at him. After graduating, Nick felt there was nothing he could not accomplish in life.

“I’m super proud of Nick,”Marrujo III said. “It was a privilege to be a small part of his journey. It was an awesome opportunity to coach them him in high school and junior college.”

Nick knows that none of this would be possible without the help of NMMI coach Chris Cook, who made the difference in teaching him details of the game. Cook would say quotes to him and help know that the little things make a big difference not only in baseball but in life.

Nick Palomino at the plate during a game. (Submitted Photo)

The University of Southwest coach Appel scouted him when NMMI played in a tournament in Albuquerque. Appel liked what he saw in Nick and his strong arm in the outfield.

“When recruiting Nick, I knew that he could have an immediate impact in our outfield, Steve Appel, head baseball coach of USW said. “He comes from a good family and brings values that we believe in here at USW.”

At the University of Southwest, Nick batted .351 in 30 games his junior year. The Mustangs were coming back from a game in Louisiana when the team found out the second half of their season was canceled because of the coronavirus.

Nick Palomino in the outfield during a game. (Submitted Photo)

Nick feels grateful for his opportunities to be playing college baseball at USW. He also knows their team plays good competition and faces a good schedule. He is thankful that coach Appel took a chance on him. He does not regret going to school there and will end up with a degree, something he did not see.

The difference between playing high school baseball and playing at NMMI is the game is faster. Going from NMMI to USW, Nick did not see a big difference.

Nick’s advice to anyone graduating high school who wants to play at the next level is to stay focused and keep their goals in front of them. He also tells student-athletes to make sure they take care of their business in the classroom or they will not be able to play in college.

It wasn’t that long ago that Nick looked up to other athletes from Roswell and kids that lived on the south side. Nick tries to be a role model through education and his ability to play baseball, and he says that if kids from the south side have a dream and are willing to work hard enough, they too can make it. For Nick, it all started in the little league playing at Lions Hondo.

When Nick is done playing baseball, he wants to be a physical therapist and is on pace to graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology. He wants to play baseball as long as he can and has dreams of making it to the major leagues.

“I knew that he (Nick) would not only be a good player for us,” Appel said, “but also a great human being in our program. I have a lot of praise for the head coach (Chris Cook) that he played for at NMMI and knew that he would be taught the things we look for in student-athletes. I expect Nick to flourish in the outfield and be a big part of our lineup this spring.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.