Athlete of the Week: Mike Castellani ’17

Elise Covert, Sports Co-Editor

Mike Castellani ’17 has been playing baseball for as long as he can remember. While he played multiple sports as a child, he became hooked on baseball from his first season of T-ball.

Hailing from Avon, Conn., Castellani was a varsity baseball player for three years in high school and named captain and MVP in his senior year. He began playing for the Bison in 2014 as a pitcher. In his first two seasons, he primarily pitched out of the bullpen in relief, but towards the end of his sophomore year he was inserted into the starting lineup and has remained there since. In his sophomore season, he ranked in the top 10 in the Patriot League for earned run average (ERA). The next year, he led the league in pickoffs with five.

Castellani entered his senior season in 10th place on the program’s all-time list of best ERA at 3.72. He threw his first collegiate complete game shutout this March against Cornell, which brought that average down even further. So far in the 2017 season, Castellani has maintained a 2.84 ERA and has held opponents to a 0.241 batting average.

Despite receiving multiple individual awards, Castellani is all about the team and clearly prioritizes the team’s goals over his own. He says his biggest accomplishment for the Orange and Blue was winning the 2014 Patriot League Championship during his first year and getting to play in a regional game.

“Not only was the experience of playing on a national stage amazing, but the exposure Bucknell gets from playing in championship tournaments really benefits the school,” Castellani said. He also mentioned that garnering personal accolades can be gratifying, but it should never be a distraction from winning a championship as a team.

“The goal of every season isn’t to win personal awards, but to win a team title, and that’s all I am focused on this season—getting back to a regional,” Castellani said.

Castellani also reminisced about the close friendships he’s developed during his time as a Bison varsity athlete.

“Obviously spending so much time everyday with the same people creates memories and bonds, but it also creates trust,” Castellani said. “My teammates are some of my closest friends and guys I know will produce on the field and have my back off the field.”

While providing him with lifelong friendships, baseball has also proven to be a test of mental strength and will for Castellani. His high school coach put it best, saying that baseball “is played between the pitches,” a sentiment that Castellani has carried with him throughout his entire career.

“As a pitcher the game can be won or lost on my actions, and the pressure tests your mental strength every pitch,” Castellani said. “You need to play with a swagger and an arrogance to be successful in this game.  If you doubt yourself for a second that can be the difference between winning and losing, so when I step on to the field I know I am the best player on it, because that gives me an edge.”

Castellani wants nothing more than to use that edge to his team’s advantage, capture another league championship, and advance to regional playoffs once again.

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