In return to baseball, Shaler grad Alex Ficorilli makes impact for Clarion
Stepping away from baseball was the only recourse for Alex Ficorilli.
Following the fall semester in 2018, Ficorilli’s grades weren’t where they needed to be. A lack of effort put the Clarion sophomore behind.
Ficorilli decided to take a hiatus from the baseball team and focus on becoming better college student.
“My grades weren’t there, and I had other issues I had to deal with,” said Ficorili, a 2016 Shaler Area graduate. “I wasn’t close to getting kicked out of school by the school, but my parents said if my grades didn’t come up, I wasn’t going back to school anymore. I hit the wall and realized it’s my real life. I need to step back and get my stuff together.”
Developing strong priorities and focusing on time management led to improvement for Ficorilli. After rejoining the baseball team in the fall, Ficorilli became a standout in the spring.
Ficorilli started every game in the infield for Clarion, batted a team-high .358 and was chosen for the second team of the All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division team.
Success on the diamond was matched by major strides in the classroom.
For the spring 2019 semester, Ficorilli made the Dean’s List for the first time with a 3.5 GPA. Ficorilli, who described himself as a B or C student throughout high school, said it was all about putting in the effort.
“I wouldn’t say I struggled,” said Ficorilli, who is majoring in nutrition and fitness. “I wouldn’t put in 100 percent. I just thought about my parents. My older brother is a mechanical engineer who is super smart. I wanted to keep it in the back of my mind to do it for them.”
Golden Eagles coach Anthony Williams told Ficorilli last fall he could try out for a roster spot. Nothing was guaranteed.
“I’ll be honest,” Williams said about Ficorilli playing after a year off. “You don’t see it too often at the Division II level. It’s so competitive. It’s tough to have a kid come out and No. 1, play at that level, and No. 2, compete at that level. It’s a testament to the work he put in. He was still working out, and we gave him the opportunity to come out — not when we were around — to use the batting cages and go out and hit.”
The Golden Eagles saw a major resurgence as a team, finishing 19-29. Clarion’s win total was the second highest in school history and six behind the mark set in 2005.
Ficorilli will continue to evolve. Williams would like to see an increase in his power and stolen bases. Ficorilli hit 12 doubles and drove in 19 runs but didn’t hit any home runs. On the basepaths, Ficorilli was 8 of 13 in stolen-base attempts.
“We talked about increasing a couple areas for him,” Williams said. “We wanted him to steal more bags. He’s a fast kid who got on base a lot, but it didn’t translate into stolen bases. He had a lot of doubles but a big zero in the home run column. We want to increase his power and consistency on defense at third base.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.