2007-09-19 / Sports

DeSclafani's busy summer took him coast to coast

Colts Neck hurler verbally commits to Florida
BY JEFF APPLEBLATT Correspondent

What a year for Colts Neck High School's 17-year-old pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.

Anthony DeSclafani Anthony DeSclafani Many would say it wasn't a surprise. He has been impressing teammates and opponents alike since his freshman year at Colts Neck - a freshman campaign in which he managed a 1.55 earned-run average in 54.1 innings on the mound.

Colts Neck coach Mike Yorke has also been highly impressed. But he has been far from surprised.

"We saw him in my camp as an eighthgrader," Yorke said about DeSclafani. "We really saw how easily the ball came out of his hands. We knew he had something special.

"He works super hard," Yorke added. "He loves pressure, loves to pitch in the big game, loves pitching in the limelight - but he's not cocky. He's just another one of the kids. He's easygoing, but he's definitely a competitor. He was pretty much our ace right away."

The Cougars ace, though, was reluctant to keep impressing during the summer. Like many teenagers, the star pitcher was hoping to have some free time. But in the end, De- Sclafani could not turn down the opportunities he was offered, and he continued to showcase his talent throughout the summer.

DeSclafani definitely accomplished the feat after he ranked No. 46 of all players in the World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) championship games, a tournament consisting of players under 18 years old.

Including the WWBA event, De- Sclafani pitched on both ends of the country, taking the time pitching for the Tournament of Stars Junior National team, pitching in the Cape Cod High School Classic, pitching in the Area Code games - traveling and pitching for much of the summer.

DeSclafani is happy he didn't pass up any of the opportunities. But one of the biggest memories for him came in the Area Code games. The New York Yankees fan was pitching for their scouting team, and he had the opportunity to pitch in Yankee Stadium.

"It felt great," DeSclafani said about pitching in "The house that Ruth built," where he pitched one inning, gave up one hit, and struck out two. "I always wanted to pitch off the Yankee mound."

His parents are happy he took advantage of the offers, too. DeSclafani's father Jim, who was unable to travel to watch his son play every game, called after every one.

"It's been great," Jim DeSclafani said while his son was in California for the Area Code games. "It was an opportunity he couldn't miss."

The pitcher's mother on the other hand was able to travel around with her son.

"As a mother, it was exciting," Cathy DeSclafani said. "It was a really great opportunity for him. We met some really great people and made some really neat friends along the way."

Away from the field this summer, colleges were allowed to start contacting recruits, and DeSclafani's name was on many scouts' lists. Jim DeSclafani said that 30 colleges called right after the permitted time began. And, in the end, Anthony DeSclafani gave a verbal commitment to the University of Florida.

"We visited," Jim DeSclafani said, referring to the family's trip to the university. "The campus is beautiful, and he got a scholarship.

"He also looked at Clemson, but the coach moved to Florida," he added. "[Anthony] loved the coach."

Though Anthony De- Sclafani may remember pitching in Yankee Stadium more than anywhere else he played, his father credits much of the college attention to Anthony's pitching in Atlanta during the WWBA championship games. The pitcher threw seven innings, did not allow a hit, walked one, and struck out a remarkable 14. There is also one other memory from this year Anthony DeSclafani will put ahead of everything else; his championship with Colts Neck - the school's first baseball championship ever. And although he already knows where he'll be pitching after high school, DeSclafani is not thinking past his final year as a Cougar.

"I'm a competitor," he said. "I wanted to go into a program with high standards so that I can make myself better. There will be even better players in college [than I played with this summer], and it will be a lot harder.

"And I want a good season with Colts Neck," he added. "A championship is a memory I'll definitely have forever, and I say we can repeat."

Like DeSclafani, Yorke is also confident in the chances of another championship. And he should be. The team did great in American Legions play without its star pitcher in the lineup.

"We are definitely confident in our pitching," Yorke said. "Anthony is at the head of the list, and with Anthony on our side, how could we not feel great going into next year?"

As confident as Yorke is in DeSclafani's pitching going into next season, the ace knows he has to continue improving.

"During the winter, I'll have to work out twice as hard with the trainer," De- Sclafani said. "I want to go into Florida ready.

"I have a lot more to work towards," he added. "I feel like I accomplished a lot, but I feel I have a lot more to accomplish."

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