Shane McCarthy is expecting a successful season not only for himself, but for his team as well.
A sophomore starting pitcher for the Seton Hall baseball team, McCarthy was named to the Preseason All-Big East Team heading into his second year in South Orange. He is happy to have the accolade, but he said a winning season for the Hall would mean a lot more than individual recognition.
“It is an honor to be named to the Preseason All-Big East Team,” McCarthy said. “My mindset for the season is trying to make sure that honor is there at the end of the year along with my team having a great year all around.”
Even though his honor came in the preseason, McCarthy and his teammates – who were picked to finish third in the conference – have goals to go into the postseason.
“Goals for us are we’re going to be in the Big East Conference Tournament, we’re going to win the Big East Conference Tournament and we’re going to be watching ourselves get picked to go somewhere for regionals.” In his first season for the Pirates, the Fair Haven, N.J. native led the Big East with a 2.19 ERA while holding his opponents to a .222 batting average, the fourth-best mark in the league.
He also allowed the fewest runs, earned runs and walks among starting pitchers in the conference. He went 4-4, throwing a team-high 65 2/3 in- nings pitched and also had the lowest ERA of a Seton Hall freshman starting pitcher since Jason Grilli – now of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves – in 1995.
Prior to playing for the Hall, McCarthy helped lead Rumson-Fair Haven High School to the State Sectional Championship game in 2014 and was a participant in the 2014 Carpenter Cup Classic and New Jersey Senior All-Star Game.
The success McCarthy had in his rookie year also landed him national recognition. He was given a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team and was named to the College Sports Madness All-Big East Second Team.
McCarthy attributed the veteran leadership on last year’s team as one reason why he had so much success throughout his first year of collegiate ball.
“Our senior leaders are really great motivators for our underclassmen, and they show us the way each and every year.”
One of the upperclassmen pitchers who has been there to help McCarthy out is junior Anthony Pacillo, who was also a member of the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team back in 2014.
“I like to think that I’ve helped Shane a bit, maybe more so just talking with him and telling him what it was like after my freshman year,” Pacillo said. “Hopefully he responds well and has a great sophomore season as well.”
In the team’s opening weekend against Missouri down in Fort Myers, Fla., McCarthy took the loss in his first game. He gave up three earned runs over 5 1/3 innings.
With the mentality he brings to the game, expect McCarthy to make major improvements the next time he steps on the mound.
“Every day I try to be better than yesterday, and that’s the one thing I really focus on each and every day,” McCarthy said.
His teammates and coaches stick behind his competitive and driven spirit. “He’s a very competitive athlete,” pitching coach Phil Cundari said. “He’s competitive on the mound and that’s his best attribute. The reason he’s a tough competitor is he’s a strike-thrower. In big games last year, he proved to always give us a chance to win and that’s about as good as you can ask from a young pitcher.”
While McCarthy is a gamer when his toe touches the rubber, his teammates see a much calmer person off the field.
“(He is) a huge competitor on the field and off the field he’s quiet,” Pacillo said. “The game moves well when Shane’s on the mound and we love having him out there.”
The team’s and coaches’ expectations for McCarthy are simple – for him to play the way he usually does.
“I’m sure Shane has high expectations, we do as well,” Cundari said. “What we really expect, and the things we can control, is that he continues to be very effective, always give his team a chance to win on a day that he’s on the mound and that he gives us a lot of innings. By doing those things, he’ll also provide a lot of leadership.”
To Pacillo, for McCarthy to be successful, all he has to do is be himself and his teammates will be right behind him.
“Just Shane to be Shane and go out there and throw strikes and always compete. That’s all we can ask from him. The team will be there behind him to play.”
Olivia Mulvihill can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill.