Recent WNY baseball and softball showcase games show off North Collins complex
NORTH COLLINS –– The inaugural Western New York Baseball and Softball Underclassmen Showcase brought together some of the area’s players in the two sports at one place, for the first time.
Representatives of high schools that would not ordinarily play games at North Collins stepped onto the district’s complex on Saturday, Aug. 11.
“This complex is phenomenal,” said Brandon Jewett, who will be a senior at Frontier High School, this fall. “You can’t ask for a better place to play.”
“It’s beautiful,” said J.D. Andresseen, a soon-to-be junior at St. Mary’s, who took note of how much fun he said it was to slide on the all-turf surface. “It’s a really nice complex,” he added.
This community’s “hidden gem” was revealed to players, coaches and their families, along with a number of college scouts that were in attendance.
“It’s nice because a lot of these teams never see us; they’re mostly ECIC teams and we don’t play them,” said North Collins Head Baseball Coach Paul Kellner, an assistant with the White squad, whose Eagles team plays in the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Athletic Association.
“For them to come out here and see this, it’s an eye opener for them. I think they really enjoyed playing out here and we certainly enjoyed having them,” he said.
Baseball and softball players from Section VI and some from beyond that, united on the fields of North Collins.
The boys bashed the ball around the park in a 14 – 11 win for the Blue team over the White squad, while the girls made it a clean sweep for the teams in Blue, in a come-from-behind 11 – 5 victory. Both of the games lasted for nine innings.
“It was a good experience to see all of the competition from all of the different areas and sections,” Andresseen said.
Andresseen finished off the baseball game, throwing a scoreless inning in the ninth, for the Blue team. He was named the team’s offensive most valuable player.
Joining him as award-winners from the Blue side were Brian Ratajczak of Newfane, who hit a 2-run homer in the top of the ninth to provide insurance after the White squad cut the lead to 12 – 11, and Eric Cartenuto of JFK, who was named the pitching MVP.
Reston Pettit of Bolivar-Richburg was named the game’s overall MVP, with a hitting and pitching performance that helped push the Blue to an early 7 – 0 lead.
This showcase was the brainchild of North Collins Coach Rob Catalino in his self-expressed “attempt to get more area talent noticed.”
The former St. Bonaventure baseball player said he envisioned this event as an opportunity for potential college players to exhibit their abilities and get a better feel for where they may best fit, when playing beyond the high school level.
He said he believes the area offers plenty of talent, but “just not enough opportunity.” He added that he hopes this showcase helped get some players the attention they deserved.
“It’s a once in a lifetime chance,” said Jewett, who played alongside Frontier teammate Evan Johnston. “These kind of chances don’t come around very often. You’ve got to take advantage of showing what you can do in the game. You have got to go up there, have a good at-bat and make the plays. It’s just an honor to be able to play in this game and it was a blast meeting new guys from other teams.”
During his two innings on the mound, Jewett allowed 1 run and slugged a 2-run triple, to help close the gap for the White team, late in the game. He was named MVP pitcher for the White squad.
Winning the offensive MVP was Alex Kovacs, one of six St. Joseph’s players who took part in the game, after helping the program win a Monsignor Martin title, in the spring.
St. Joseph’s Paul Nasca also coached in the game. Drew Borowski of Warsaw was awarded for his plays in the outfield with the defensive MVP award.
“It’s a fun game to coach. There’s a nice amount of talent out there,” said Kellner, who noted that his senior-to-be Jared Keppel at North Collins, who played in the baseball game, was “impressive. We wish we didn’t have as many mistakes early on, but it is what it is. What matters is that the kids had fun.”
Representing Springville-Griffith Institute High School in the baseball game were outfielder Billy Dickinson, who will be a senior this fall, and pitcher Drew Scharra, who will be entering his junior year.
During the softball game, after trailing 3 – 1, the Blue squad scored 5 runs in the sixth inning and did not surrender any leads, from there, winning the nightcap. The softball game got underway as the more than three-hour baseball game came to a conclusion.
Alden’s Kathy Odrobina, a late addition to the event roster, tossed three innings, allowing two runs, to earn the game’s MVP award. Maria Gabriel of Sacred Heart also threw solid innings for the Blue team, to earn pitcher MVP.
Rachel Ziarnowski of Holy Angels took home a multi-hit game and was awarded offensive MVP for the Blue and second base player Nicole Sorrentino of Lackawanna earned the team’s award on defense.
White team MVP awards went to Moriah Harris of state-title winning Clarence, after she homered in the game, Madalyn Hillery of West Seneca East for defense and Charlotte Miller of Kenmore West for pitching.
“I feel like all of my hard work paid off, working through all of the offseason and in summer ball,” said Andresseen. The player also plays for the East Coast Grays national team and A-Turf showcase team. “I guess it all showed off.”