Cole Contigiani of Belmont: Baseball Player of the Season

  • Belmont’s Cole Contigiani earned D-III Player of the Year honors this season after going 7-1 over 52.2 innings with four earned runs and 69 strikeouts. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/16/2017 10:22:05 AM

It’s possible that for Cole Contigiani, striking out to end the Belmont baseball team’s 2016 postseason run was the best thing that ever happened to him.

“That bothered him a lot,” Belmont Coach Matt LeBlanc said. “He felt like he let himself down. That was kind of the driving factor. We always preach that sometimes adversity either drives you, or it breaks you. And for him, it clearly has driven him.”

From that point on, Contigiani treated the sport like his profession and when the Raiders were ready to kick off the 2017 season in April, Contigiani was a completely new player.

“His mind set completely changed. When he was younger, he would let things bother him on the mound ... but this year, he learned to let that go,” LeBlanc said. “You love to see a kid, especially when you’re a teacher and a coach, you see a kid set a goal and truly work hard to accomplish that goal. You feel so good for a kid like that.”

The results speak for themselves.

Contigiani helped lead the Raiders to a 17-3 record and a runner-up finish in Division III after Belmont lost to No. 1 Campbell, 6-5, in 10 innings in the championship game. Along the way, he was named the D-III Player of the Year, and allowed just one run for the Raiders in 13 innings pitched during the postseason.

Contigiani fired off six innings of one-run ball against No. 3 Conant in the semifinals, and against No. 7 Mascenic in the quarterfinals, the senior shutout the Vikings in a complete-game effort with seven strikeouts.

“He went and watched (the film) of Mascenic play Berlin. You can’t teach that,” LeBlanc said. “He wanted to get that little bit extra and he went and took notes.”

In fact, Contigiani was so good this season that his only loss of the year was a contest against Berlin in which he threw a no-hitter. He went 7-1 during the regular season with four earned runs allowed over 52.2 innings pitched, 69 strikeouts and batting average against of .113. He also drove in 21 runs and hit .386 at the plate.

“He learned to mix it up and he doesn’t rely on any one or two pitches,” LeBlanc said. “He approaches each batter differently and he does that throughout the game. ... He’s much stronger at the end of the game than he is at the beginning and it’s amazing to see a kid, once he gets up to 60, 65, 70 pitches, and he gets stronger.”

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