Jordan Cantalamessa’s year-long nightmare is finally over.
Last year as a junior, Cantalamessa could not do much of anything at the plate. He batted .196 and failed to reach base in nearly three out of every four at bats. The second baseman began the season as the team’s leadoff hitter, but was dropped down to the bottom of the order due to a lack of production. His season was not one to remember.
Fast forward one season and Cantalamessa is playing like last year never happened. The No. 2 hitter has been a sparkplug for the offense and has taken advantage of scoring opportunities when they have been presented. He is currently batting .333 and is second on the team with 19 RBIs. This is quite the turnaround from last year, when he managed just 12 RBIs over the entire season.
So what caused this extreme transformation? A new coaching staff and a more aggressive approach at the plate.
“We let all of the kids start with a clean slate,” coach Rich Maloney said. “The past meant nothing, each player had to prove to me that they could play.”
Cantalamessa took advantage of the new beginning. He played in the California Central League over the summer and built up some confidence that has carried over into the season.
“They let me do my thing when I’m up,” Cantalamessa said. “If I see a good pitch, I’m not going to let it by me. Last year, I was more passive.”
Cantalamessa also credits the new coaching staff for a new attitude that had been lacking on past teams.
“There is a totally different manner this season,” Cantalamessa said. “There is a greater sense of team now then there ever was before.”
His best performance of the year came on March 7th at Oklahoma. After a fifth inning three-run homerun to tie the game, he knocked in two runs in the seventh inning to help Michigan come back from an eight-run deficit. In the eighth inning, he tacked on an infield single and knocked in his seventh run of the game. The single was his fourth hit on the day. Michigan came out victorious with a wild 16-12 win.
“Jordan has been so clutch,” Maloney said. “He has really come through when the team has needed a big hit.”
This weekend, the Wolverines will travel to Indianapolis to play in the Butler Classic. They will compete against Butler, Western Michigan and Central Michigan. At 6-7, the Wolverines would love to get their record above .500.
“These kids have never been over .500, so it would be such a confidence boost,” Maloney said. Once we hit .500, there is no telling where we could go from there.”