2008-07-02 / Sports

DeSclafani looking to enjoy his summer

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Anthony DeSclafani just wanted to enjoy playing high school baseball one more time.

TIM MORRIS Colts Neck High School's Anthony DeSclafani gets ready to pitch at last week's Shore Conference Coaches All-Star Game, played at FirstEnergy Park. TIM MORRIS Colts Neck High School's Anthony DeSclafani gets ready to pitch at last week's Shore Conference Coaches All-Star Game, played at FirstEnergy Park. Colts Neck High School's hard-throwing right-hander was the starting pitcher for Monmouth County in the Shore Conference Coaches All-Star Game played at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood on June 25.

"It was my last high school game. I wanted to have fun with it," he said. "I was happy to put the Colts Neck uniform on one last time and play with my teammates."

DeSclafani dazzled one last time, pitching two scoreless innings for the Monmouth squad that went on to beat Ocean County, 12-4. He put on his No. 16 for the final time, joining his Cougar teammates Ethan Jackson, Chris Coutros and Joe DeNora for a final curtain call.

Few if any players in the Shore Conference faced the scrutiny or expectations that DeSclafani encountered this spring. Although he had signed with the University of Florida last year, taking that pressure off himself, he was the target of every hitter looking to make a point and every team looking to prove he wasn't as good as advertised.

DeSclafani held up under that pressure, going 7-1 with a 1.44 earned run average and helping the Cougars defend their Shore Conference A North Division championship and reach the Central Jersey Group IV title game.

"I made sure that I concentrated on my game," said DeSclafani on his approach to the high school season.

He worked on adding a change-up to his arsenal and quickly mastered it, much to the annoyance of hitters who were so worried about getting around on his lively fastball that they were helpless against the change of speeds. It's a big reason that he fanned 81 batters this year and only issued seven walks.

Cougar coach Mike Yorke described De- Sclafani as very humble and someone who puts the team first. The coach said that helped him cope with the exposure he received.

"He's a class act," Yorke remarked. "He's a team player. It's never about him."

DeSclafani will spend the summer pitching for the Wildcats in the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL).

"I want to stay sharp," he pointed out.

DeSclafani has every intention of playing for the Florida Gators next year unless, pardon the pun, the Boston Red Sox knock his socks off with an offer.

The Red Sox drafted the promising right-hander in the 22nd round of the Major League draft. The Sox have until Aug. 15 to sign the Colts Neck grad. De- Sclafani won't lose any sleep over it. This is his last summer as a high schooler and he wants to make the most of it.

Yorke knows his ace has hit a home run no matter what decision he reaches this summer.

"I'm excited for him," he said. "His hard work and talent combined to give him a great choice."

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