In a transitional year for the Seton Hall baseball team, leaders and game changers have been relied on heavily to guide the team back to the Big East Championship. On top of the need for these standout players, Seton Hall are also juggling with the struggle of not having a home field for the entirety of this season. Christian Del Castillo, a junior outfielder, has emerged as one of the team’s instrumental components both offensively and defensively.
With a .316 batting average, Del Castillo has become one of Coach Rob Sheppard’s most efficient players when he steps up to the plate. Del Castillo has confidently made up for much of the offensive prowess lost by last year’s departing seniors and is doing so with flair.
In his debut collegiate baseball season, Del Castillo saw a healthy amount of time on the field, and he produced two home runs as a sophomore. Just half way through this season, however, and Del Castillo has already seen five hits find their way into the stands and currently has 21 RBIs, six more than he put up throughout the entirety of last season.
His batting average of .237 from 2018 also makes his current average more impressive given the immense jump in proficiency he has exhibited with each game. His slugging average of .621 is levels above his teammates, though, as the next highest average from a Seton Hall player who has played at least 20 games is Casey Dana at .520.
Del Castillo’s recent performances for the Pirates suggest that he just reaching the best form in his collegiate career. He put up four runs and a home run across matches against Big East rivals Villanova and Rider and Princeton. Three of those last five matches saw the Pirates come out on top of their opponents, and Del Castillo proved to be a pivotal piece of the team’s hard-earned victories and well-contested losses.
In the outfield, Del Castillo has been just as productive on the defensive end of his game. He has fielded under 1.000 only six times across 25 starts this year with 43 putouts and just a single error to highlight his stellar form. Those numbers, once again, are relatively close to those he put up last season in less than half the time he saw on the field. Though his offensive contributions dipped below his usual productivity in Seton hall’s three matches against Villanova, his defensive numbers soared as he caught a Wildcat player stealing seven times in those games.
Del Castillo’s jump in quality performances emphasizes the maturity the need for standouts amidst the unfortunate impediments, but it is an adjustment that is starting to pay dividends. His versatility to perform on either side of the field, especially against Big East competitors, is clearly provoking the best out of his teammates as well. The likes of Grober, Matt Toke, and Jerry Huntzinger have all followed in suit of Del Castillo’s contributions, evoking Seton Hall’s recent run of good form on the field.
While a year without a home field will continue to hinder the Pirates’ mojo both mentally and in game, Del Castillo’s leadership by example is the kind necessary to pull the best from his team.
Justin Sousa can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @908Sousa.