Christopher Boulay / Asst. Sports Editor
CCSU baseball outfielder Jay Schillaci has returned for the spring season, and his dream of winning an NEC title have returned as well.
Schillaci, a senior, was forced to sit last season because of what he calls “school issues”. Now, back on the team and resuming his regular position as a staple in the outfield, Schillaci has not missed a start this season.
“It was pretty tough. Last year I went to some of the games, and it was both sad and depressing for me.” Schillaci said. “In my mind, I always wanted to come back.”
Schillaci, who was named to the NEC All-Tournament Team in both 2006 and 2007, believes that this is the best chance for CCSU Baseball to win the NEC Title.
“This year, we have a good shot. The NEC Title is why I came back,” he said. “A title is a great way to go out.”
The outfielder has been key to both the offensive and defensive play of the Blue Devils throughout his career, and currently has a .967 fielding percentage.
Schillaci’s road to being a regular starter at CCSU began when he was in high school in Pennsylvania at McKeesport Area High School.
“I remember in high school watching the NCAA Tournament where Pittsburgh played CCSU. I didn’t even know where CCSU was located. Who knew that I would end up there?”
Schillaci was a two-year letterman at McKeesport, and he also was All-Section/All-League. He played on the American Legion All-Pennsylvania team as well. At CCSU, he hit .319 in 2006, .344 in 2007 and is currently hitting .303 this year.
“When I first came in, it was hard. It was a completely different life, especially being eight hours from home,” Schillaci said. “It has been a lot of fun. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but a lot more ups.”
Schillaci is optimistic this year to win the NEC Title, not because of the talent level, but because of the tight-knit atmosphere that the team has built for the season.
“We have a lot of clutch hitters,” Schillaci said. “Everyone picks each other up. We are a lot closer in the group, no arguments or fights. We have the same goal in mind, and that is to win it all.”
Though Schillaci returned to many familiar faces this season, he admitted the adjustment was a little difficult.
“It is tough because I wasn’t [at CCSU] in the fall. I knew all the guys, but it was so weird at first,” he said. “I feel really confident. We started off slow, but we have a [six game] win streak right now. We are starting to gel and we have to keep up momentum.”
That momentum could be seen in full-force during last weekend’s four game sweep of the Long Island Blackbirds in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Blue Devil offense crushed the Blackbirds, outscoring them 44-17 over the four games.
Schillaci was a large part of that offensive juggernaut, tallying seven hits in 14 at bats while scoring seven runs. The senior also crushed two home runs and drove in eight. He is now has four home runs on the season and is tied for the team lead in with teammates Casey Walko and Richie Tri.
CCSU is currently 20-12 overall and 10-5 in the NEC. They lead the conference by .5 game over Mount St. Mary’s.