Transfer gives UNCW baseball team added weapon
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 12:04
The UNC Wilmington baseball team is one of the school’s most successful sports programs. The squad can be counted on to compete with the best of the CAA every year and has annually finished as one of the top teams in the conference. Expectations for this year are no different, as the Seahawks are currently first in the conference standings a little past the midway point of the season.
One major contributor to the Seahawks is Pitt Community College transfer Tyler Molinaro. Although this is Molinaro’s first season on the team, he brings with him valuable experience and skill that has been evident during the season. The junior was talented in high school, being named First-Team All-District and setting school records in home runs and RBI. But he chose to take a roundabout way to becoming a Seahawk, spending two years at Pitt Community College in Greenville to better hone his game.
“It was the coaches here at UNCW (that made me decide to go to PCC)," Molinaro said. "They came and watched me pitch in high school and saw me hit. At the end of the signing deadline, they realized I’d be better off as a hitter and suggested I look into going to a community college in Greenville called Pitt. So, I went there and then it came full circle with me coming back here where I first thought to come anyways.”
In two seasons at Pitt, Molinaro compiled a .371 batting average (104-for-280) in 95 games, finishing with 24 home runs, 107 runs scored, 23 doubles and 91 runs batted in, according to the college's athletic site. This led to Molinaro being named a 2011 Third-Team NJCAA All-American and being a 15th round draft choice by the New York Yankees.
Being drafted by a major league team is any athlete's dream, one that is hard to pass up. However, after speaking to fellow draftee Andrew Cain, who was chosen in the 12th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in last year’s draft, Molinaro decided that it’d be best to come to UNCW.
“I talked to Andrew Cain who was in the same position I was, and we were bouncing ideas off each other," he said. "We talked about how good this team could be this year and that drew me in from there. After thinking about it with my family, I thought it was the best decision to come here.”
While Molinaro’s collegiate career has been undoubtedly successful so far, he admits that it has not all been easy adjusting to the next level.
“My freshman year at Pitt, you go from being one of the better kids in your area all the time and you get put on a team that is one of the most talented teams I’ve played on, you learn that you’re not as good as you think you are. You go through some trials early on and you have to learn how to deal with failure," he said. "That taught me early on that it’s not going to be as easy as I thought it was.”
Nevertheless, Molinaro has not disappointed during his short tenure at UNCW. He currently leads the Seahawks in slugging percentage at .492 and RBI with 26. His eight home runs also lead the squad while being second-most in the conference. This has helped the Seahawks jump back from their slow start to the season as they top the CAA standings. When asked about his goals for the season, Molinaro shrugged off the personal spotlight and focused more on the team.
“I’m a more team-oriented type of person," he said. "Everyone wants to win conference, be able to play in the regional tournament and have a chance to go to the College World Series. That’s where all our focus is right now, is trying to maintain first place, win conference, get a bid and play in the regional tournament.”
Molinaro and the Diamond Hawks jump back into action Friday night when they begin a weekend series with conference rival Hofstra at Brooks Field.