Fox Chapel grad Monteverde experiences highs, lows in 1st season at Seton Hill
Patrick Monteverde learned some valuable lessons during his first season at Seton Hill — for instance, in a championship dogpile, it's better to be at the top than the bottom.
But the most valuable education the Fox Chapel graduate received came when he experienced a significant amount of on-field adversity for the first time in his baseball career.
After a dominant freshman season at Division III Virginia Wesleyan in 2017, Monteverde went through more ups and downs after moving closer to home and taking a step up to Division II. There were plenty of highs — including a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship and a berth in the Division II Atlantic Regional — but he also dealt with creeping doubt as a pitcher.
Ultimately, he believes he came through stronger on the other side.
“I've never really had to deal with that,” Monteverde said. “I wanted to learn to deal with failure more. I failed in the Coastal Plain League this past summer, but nothing like this, where guys are depending on me to go deep in the game. I didn't really know how to deal with that.”
But that was one of the reasons Monteverde made the “extremely hard” decision to leave Virginia in the first place and come back to Western Pennsylvania. He wanted to push himself both as a student and as a player against stronger competition.
So after talking through the decision with his family, he decided to go through with the transfer.
“We just thought it was going to push me to my limits as far as just sitting in my comfort spot at Wesleyan,” he said. “I definitely left a lot back at Wesleyan. I was named captain as a sophomore and lived on the beach. Life was good. I had to give it up, though.”
“Life was good” might actually be an understatement for Monteverde's freshman season at Virginia Wesleyan, as the southpaw was named Old Dominion Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year after going 7-2 with a 1.96 ERA, then pitched for the Virginia Pilots of the prestigious summer Coastal Plain League.
And it looked like the transition to Division II would work smoothly as well, too, especially after Monteverde's debut outing at Seton Hill, when he pitched six shutout innings against Shippensburg.
But then came a four-start stretch in which Monteverde failed to make it out of the fifth inning three times. He said he wasn't trusting his ability to generate weak contact from hitters, and he reached out to everybody — Seton Hill coach Marc Marizzaldi, pitching coach D.J. Cannon, former coaches, family and more — to seek answers.
“(Marizzaldi) always talks about how confidence is bulletproof, and at that point, my mind was not bulletproof,” he said.
“I kind of had a leaky confidence, a little bit. I started to have little creeps of doubt but nothing too big. Once I had those phone calls, I don't want to say people boosted me with confidence, but people were just telling me who I am and that I am good enough. They said you've got nothing to lose, so you may as well go out and try to deal with you.”
A seven-inning, one-run, nine-strikeout performance against Gannon helped Monteverde turn the tide, and he ultimately finished the season 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA.
“From there on out, I knew that Patrick Monteverde was good enough to get these guys out and throw some zeroes,” he said.
The postseason provided a special experience for Monteverde. The Griffins won their second consecutive PSAC Tournament title — “I haven't dog-piled since I was 7 years old. It was pretty different, especially being at the bottom of it,” Monteverde said — and advanced to the Atlantic Regional for the ninth straight year.
Monteverde pitched the Atlantic Regional opener and blanked Shepherd's powerful offense over seven innings of work in a 4-0 win. He also turned in a quality start against Mercyhurst, but ultimately Seton Hill's season ended with a 4-2 loss.
“We had a great group of seniors, and personally I didn't want anything more than to get those guys to the regional and the World Series,” he said. “... It's such a special moment for those guys, their careers being finished now, and I just wanted them to go out on a high note, and I was just going to do everything in my power to do that.”
Monteverde hopes for a chance to play professional baseball, especially after seeing his Seton Hill throwing partner Perry DellaValle get drafted last week by the St. Louis Cardinals. He's spending this summer at Prospect Performance Academy in Aurora, Ohio, hoping to add 20 pounds to his 180-pound frame and some more zip to his fastball.
“I top out right now at about 89 or 90 (mph), and I'm going to try to come back this fall at around 94,” he said. “That's the plan, and hopefully it goes well. I know I'm in good hands, and I know (Marizzaldi and Cannon) trust me to do everything in my power to try to help them out and help out the team next year.
“(PPA's) whole thing is mass equals gas, so hopefully they'll get some mass on me.”