Bounce-back seasons usually come unexpected. However, for a highly-touted recruit like sophomore catcher Vito Friscia, this comes to no surprise.
A .253 hitter his freshman season, the Valley Stream native is currently batting at a .308 clip, which is 27th among all players in the CAA.
“The last 16 games, there hasn’t been a better player for Hofstra than Vito Friscia,” said Hofstra head coach John Russo.
Friscia, over his last 16 games, is 21-for-54 (.389) with 11 runs batted in and eight extra-base hits, making him Hofstra’s most complete hitter over this span.
“I’ve been looking to get better pitches to hit. I’ve been working with Coach Russo on the side a lot,” Friscia said.
The All-Long Island honoree came into college as a top recruit.
Recognized by Perfect Game among the top 500 prospects in high school his senior year, Friscia came in as the highest ranked catcher coming out of New York. To stay local, he chose Hofstra.
“It [Hofstra] was always down the block from my house. I fell in love with the campus and Coach Russo was so real to me. I just couldn’t say no,” Friscia said.
Becoming the hometown hero, Friscia was named the Opening Day starter for the Pride against Texas A&M, where he went 1-for-4.
For the remainder of the year, Friscia was the everyday catcher for Hofstra.
“It showed Coach Russo had a lot of trust in me and it means a lot that he does,” Friscia said.
The 6-foot-3-inch 225-pounder capped his rookie campaign with two home runs, six doubles and 14 RBI.
Considering he won the Ninth Annual International Power Showcase home run derby as a senior in high school, which included a ball tracked at 471 feet, his stat line was anticipated to have more eye-pop worthy slugging numbers.
Now, 31 games into his sophomore year, Friscia has surpassed his freshman totals in home runs (3) and runs batted in (15) and has tied the amount of two-baggers (6), placing him second on the team in slugging percentage (.495) and on-base percentage (.400).
He also has a triple this season, which he did not record in 2016.
“He’s been incredible. I love his energy right now. Every swing he takes we think he’s about to do big things,” Russo said.
The tremendous jump in batting average, however, is not necessarily due to his increased power – rather, it has to do with maturing as a college baseball player.
The big fly will come, but it cannot be forced.
“If there’s a guy in scoring position I have to do the best I can to get him in, rather than focusing on the big blast,” Friscia said.
This type of mentality has granted him the occupancy of the most feared part of the lineup – the oh-so-admired third spot.
As the middle-man in Russo’s offense, Friscia is riding an eight-game hitting streak, having reached base safely in 17 consecutive games.
Entering the Delaware series, Friscia collected seven runs batted in and seven hits in the previous four games against Towson University and Fairfield University.
For Friscia, it’s not just his red-hot hitting he hopes to keep alive.
So, what’s next for him here at Hofstra?
“[The] goal’s to win the CAA and go to regionals. I want to help take Hofstra to somewhere they’ve never been,” Friscia said.
If the upward trend continues with Friscia’s ability at the plate, the Pride will be in a much better position for a CAA pennant – with the possible brewing of a Hofstra all-time great along the way.