Fragale part of Seneca Valley's winning formula
The way the Seneca Valley baseball team has played the past three seasons, it's hard to single out one player in a stellar cast of many.
Head coach Eric Semega is the type of coach who has the pulse of his team, and when he speaks about one of his four-year starters in Sam Fragale, Semega speaks volumes.
“Sam is a four-year starter and there is a lot to be said for that,” Semega said.
The back-to-back WPIAL championships in Fragale's sophomore and junior seasons — the Raiders finished second this season — speak plenty about how influential the senior third baseman has been to the program.
Early this season, Fragale suffered an ankle injury, something that sidelined him for several games. It was the first time in a long time he was more of a spectator than contributor.
“Sam is respected by his teammates, and he motivated through his words,” Semega said. “This team has his back and he is huge for us, even when he was injured.”
Fragale played a lot at shortstop before the injury, then moved to third base to help solidify the infield when he returned.
No matter where he lines up, the goals are the same, playing for a WPIAL title and getting to the state finals.
To keep advancing in the state playoffs, Fragale said the Raiders have to rely on the deep pool of returning starters, a group that has seen a lot the past couple of years.
That wisdom is something he pondered even more when he was sidelined with his injury.
“My first reaction was, ‘Not during my senior year,'” Fragale said. “It was hard to sit almost half the season, but now I am back to 95 percent, and I am physically and mentally good, and we are all feeling confident.”
Looking back on some of his experience, Fragale points out that a third section title and the pride of being a multiple-time champion are nice things, but what keeps him and the team hungry is to never be satisfied.
“It's all about leaving it all out on the field every time out,” Fragale said.
The Raiders have qualified for the PIAA bracket, but even after that concludes, Fragale will be playing summer ball in a league based in Youngstown before he embarks on college at Virginia Tech.
“I looked at a couple of schools and the coach and staff there just appealed to me,” Fragale said. “The head coach is a fantastic leader and he has a (community) program I liked. They are focused on making us the best people we can be.”
Fragale will study business or biology, with his long-term plan to get into medical school.
Now, Fragale is focused on baseball.
He worked hard to getting his hitting back following his time off and he thinks third base will be his permanent position once he gets to college.
“I just want to play and help out wherever I can,” he said.
Semega has churned out several college players, and he said Fragale fits that mold perfectly.
“Coach Semega is fantastic, he knows what to do and does it smoothly,” Fragale said. “He is a fantastic motivator and focuses on the mental aspects of the game.
“Coach (Tom) Magill works with me on polishing my infield skills, and he helps with big things as well. It's that individual work that helps me and the team as a whole and is the main reason for our success.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.