Johnston catcher David Iannuccilli follows in his mother’s footsteps

It would have been impossible to not notice the name etched into that plaque inside Johnston High School. After all, it was that of his mother, Carolyn Thornton-Iannuccilli, a 1986 graduate and member of the school’s Hall of Fame for her accomplishments on the softball field.

David Iannuccilli saw the name every time he walked to gym class. It served as a reminder of hard work and passion.

It would have been impossible to not notice the name etched into that plaque inside Johnston High School. After all, it was that of his mother, Carolyn Thornton-Iannuccilli, a 1986 graduate and member of the school’s Hall of Fame for her accomplishments on the softball field.

“I’d say I get a lot of [my athletic genes] from her,” Iannuccilli said. “It’s been cool. When you walk to gym class, her name is on the Hall of Fame plaque in the gym foyer. It’s kind of cool seeing that and knowing that she left a mark on the school.”

A senior at Johnston, Iannuccilli was on his way toward leaving a similar mark. Because of the coronavirus health pandemic, Iannuccilli’s last season at Johnston was canceled, along with all spring sports throughout the state. A standout catcher on the baseball team, he was in line to be a captain and leader for the Panthers this season.

Last season, as a junior, he earned a spot on the 2019 Providence Journal All-State squad on the second team. It certainly would not have been a surprise to see this 6-foot catcher have even more success this spring. After all, it’s in his blood.

His mother is just not in the Johnston Hall of Fame — she’s also in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall of Fame and in Brown University’s Hall of Fame. She went from starring in softball at Johnston to putting together a historic career at Brown (Class of 1990). She was a three-time All-Ivy league selection and helped lead Brown to a 1990 Ivy League championship.

Thornton-Iannuccilli, who became the first full-time female sports writer at The Providence Journal after graduating, was a center fielder who set a record at Brown with 80 putouts in 1989.

Johnston baseball coach Joe Acciardo was a classmate of Thornton-Iannuccilli in high school and said he sees similarities between mother and son.

“The are very humble, hard-working, team-oriented players — both of them,” Acciardo said. “She was a classmate of mine. She never bragged. If I wasn’t in school with her, you’d never know she was an athlete. She was very reserved and did her thing and that’s David. Very similar. He comes in and does his thing. He’s not coming in with the flashiest things; he’s a blue-collar worker.”

Like his mother, Iannuccilli will play after high school, having committed to Rhode Island College. He’s grateful to continue his baseball career but certainly disappointed he couldn’t put together one more season on that diamond at Johnston.

Of course, Iannuccilli said it’s been fun to play in the same school where his Mom had success.

“I would say, for one, her playing softball helped fuel my love of playing baseball,” Iannuccilli said. “You hear stories about her playing and how hard she worked. You want to mimic that work ethic and her love for playing the game.”

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