By Shelby Townsend
Sophomore catcher Anthony Vaglica is starting his first season for the Pioneer baseball team after transferring from a Division I program at the University of South Carolina Upstate. After starting the season Feb. 18, Vaglica received many accolades for his performance within his first nine games of the season. He was named the East Region Player of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the East Coast Conference Player of the Week on Feb. 27 and 28. He also ended the month leading the East Coast Conference in home runs and doubles.
“I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything yet because it’s so early in the season,” Vaglica said modestly. Vaglica said he is more focused on team goals rather than personal goals, and he hopes that his performance along with that of his teammates will lead the Pioneers to a conference championship.
Vaglica is a Long Island native, growing up in Franklin Square, NY. He attended multiple high schools including Chaminade and New Hyde Park Memorial High School before transferring Christ School; a boarding school in Arden, NC where he was asked to join the baseball team.
Nobody in Vaglica’s family played sports after high school, and nobody in his family even played baseball. Starting at the age of 12, Vaglica spent his summers training and developing his skills at Doyle Baseball in Lakeland, Fla., a program Vaglica describes as “the best of the best.” Doyle Baseball has produced many major league players and is run by three former MLB players.
“I was just basically born with a baseball and a bat in my hand, and I just loved playing,” Vaglica said.
After graduating high school, Vaglica stayed in North Carolina for his freshman year of college, attending USC Upstate, where he batted .235 with one home run and ten RBIs for the Spartans. He decided to transfer to LIU Post after the previous Pioneer assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Lou Bernardi, who is now coaching at Iona, informed Vaglica of an open spot on the Pioneer baseball team.
Vaglica also knew sophomore in fielder Jimmy Mendyck before coming to Post. “Before I met him, I heard about him from one of my coaches in high school,” Mendyck said. “He coached Anthony for a summer, and he told me great things about him and how good of a player he is.” The two ended up playing together this summer before Vaglica started his first semester at Post.
“In the beginning I was really shy,” Vaglica said. “You have to know your role in the beginning, and then as you work your way up and prove yourself, you become somewhat of a leader.”
Mendyck said Vaglica was the missing piece the Pioneers needed in their line-up. “Every time it seems he’s in a spot where we need a hit from him, and he comes through for us,” Mendyck explained. “He’s the clutch hitter we needed.” Mendyck described Vaglica as a positive vocal leader who is able to motivate his teammates.
After graduating from LIU Post, Vaglica has his sights set on playing professionally. “I’m a big Boston Red Sox fan, but I would want to play for the New York Mets,” Vaglica said, adding that it would be cool be the “hometown guy.”
The Pioneers are now 8-7 on the season and will return to action March 24 when they take on Saint Thomas Aquinas College at the LIU Post Baseball Field at 3:30.