A lot has changed for Xaverian’ baseball team in a short time.
Two years ago the Clippers won the Catholic Intersectional title and last season they were the favorite before being upset by to Molloy in the playoffs.
This year, however, Xaverian has struggled from the start of the season, including an 8–1 non-league loss to Berkley Carrol on April 1. The team has some work ahead of it if it’s going to regain championship form in 2013, admits the new coach.
Gone is the Clippers’ former coach, Lou Piccola, who said he retired due to the combination of age and the long commute from his home in Colts Neck, NJ, which led to many late nights for the coach.
Now Frank Del George, who coached as an assistant under Piccola the past three seasons, has taken over. Del George was previously the baseball coach at St. Francis College for 25 years, until that school got rid of its program in 2006. He believes that experience will help the team this year.
Despite the easy transition, this is going to be the toughest managing job Del George has ever had, he said. Many key players have graduated, leaving Del George with an inexperienced line up.
“Being on the level I was [at St. Francis], and being with Piccola for three years with the talent we had, this to me is a shock to me right now,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge. I’m accepting the challenge.”
This year’s Clippers team will likely not be as talented as previous teams due to a change in the policy of Xaverian, Del George said. He explained that the school has shifted focus from athletic success to academics and raised its standards for incoming students.
“We’re going to have to do more on our end as coaches now,” he said. “Me, I’m going to have do more teaching, putting in more time, because of the type of talent that is coming through the door now.”
The team will have to rely on production from its senior leaders. Outfielder Andrew Schillaci, catcher Zach Candeleria, and shortstop Charles Misiano will be the players Xaverian will have to lean on this season. Xaverian will also rely on two of its senior pitchers this season — ace Anthony Amatuzzi and Dom Napoli.
Del George has a good many other seniors on the roster and he plans on sticking with them for now despite the slow start.
“We’re trying to give the seniors the most opportunity possible, but we’re running out of time now,” Del George said.
Despite the early struggles, the coach still believes this team has the potential to be a contender after a strong fall season. Now they have to translate that into spring success.
“We’re not playing up to our potential,” Del George said. “We’re really off to a slow start.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk
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