Adjusting to college life is no easy task. Once school is in session, the students are on their own to find a balance between their academic and social lives. For some students, an additional challenge is added when athletic rigors become part of their everyday routine. With the compounding of these responsibilities, it is no surprise that many varsity athletes initially struggle and typically need time to adjust.
Fortunately for the Lions, this was not the case for freshman pitcher Steve Volpe, as he fell right into the starting lineup. For many athletes, this is an impressive accomplishment on its own, but for Volpe, he knew he could do one better as he had perhaps the best start for a freshman in program history.
In the first 23 innings pitched of his collegiate career, Volpe held his opponents scoreless.
“I don’t like to look at the numbers too much because it is more important for the team to just win some games, but after the third shutout I had I thought I was doing pretty well and that maybe I was on to something,” Volpe said.
In fact, this freshman surpassed all expectations as his scoreless streak matched All-American Dave Dudeck for most shutout innings in the College’s history.
“It is really special and a nice accomplishment,” Volpe said. “(Dudeck’s) name is on the wall of our home field so to be in the same sentence with someone of his talent is pretty special and really means a lot to me.”
Heading into his freshman year, Volpe knew that the best way to train for the upcoming season was by practicing with a more experienced group of players.
“I always tried to play older kids, which has helped me out on the college level,” Volpe said. “(This made me) pretty comfortable coming in and helping out the team.”
After falling in love with pitching at age 10, Volpe describes himself more as a contact pitcher rather than one that is known for striking out the batters. With his style, the freshman credits his teammates for much of his recent success.
“I trust the fielders to make the plays, so without the defense behind me, I really wouldn’t have done as well as I did,” Volpe said. “They are the ones who made all the plays behind me, which really helps me out.”
Despite pitching extremely well and racking up a .60 ERA in his first 30 innings, Volpe humbly admits that there is always room for improvement.
“I just need to continue to keep throwing strikes and work on my defense like I have been,” Volpe said. “(Once I do that), I need to trust my teammates to get the job done and really get a total team effort to have success and win games.”
Since putting on his blue and white uniform for the first time, Volpe says he and the other freshmen have fit right in with the other players.
“Our team is like a family,” Volpe said. “The upperclassmen really took the other guys under their wing and made them feel comfortable.”
With the team currently in the mix for playoff contention, expect the Lions to take full advantage of Volpe’s strong arm. Despite his impressive streak, team wins are the most important thing for this freshman pitcher.