BERWYN – Two years ago Nicholas Campanile transferred to Morton from St. Patrick and the transition was a culture shock in a number of ways.
First, it was the first time in his life he went to a public school.
Second, Campanile went from attending smaller schools to the biggest high school enrollment in the state.
Finally, he stepped right into the varsity baseball starting lineup at catcher.
"It was different, especially going from an all-guys school to a public school and going to a much bigger school, because all my life I've gone to Catholic school," Campanile said. "Last year was my first year ever in a public school."
When he was going to St. Patrick, Campanile would take the CTA Austin bus north to Belmont Ave., where the school was located. Now, Campanile gets to stay local and has been a key player for the Mustangs, batting leadoff and playing solid defense behind the plate.
"He's been solid all year," Morton coach Mike Casey said. "Pretty much all year no one runs on him ... and he's been a rock for us back there. He's a good leader. Hitting well, right around .300. I wish some schools would look at him. I think he can play in college. No one is really giving him a look."
Despite the lack of college interest, the senior catcher has quickly adjusted to his new setting at Morton. He has become one of the vocal leaders during games, key for a catcher.
Campanile has always been drawn to playing catcher. Playing a key defensive position has helped him stay involved in games.
"My whole life I've always been a catcher so when I came here there was a spot open and I took it," Campanile said. "I don't like sitting around so I'd rather do something that I'm constantly active, and behind the plate I'm constantly doing something every pitch. Every time there is a runner on base I'm always looking to throw him out if he tries to steal."
If Morton is to make some noise in the postseason, Campanile will have to play well as a table setter for the Mustangs' struggling offense. Fellow senior Sergio Villalobos is hitting in the high .300s with five home runs and double-digit stolen bases. Outside of that, much of the team is slumping.
The Mustangs lost back-to-back one-run games last week, 1-0 in eight innings against Willowbrook on May 19 and 1-0 against Fenwick on May 20. Morton finished 9-9 in the West Suburban Gold after dropping two out of three against the Warriors.
"Our pitching has been there and we've started to pick up the ball, which we struggled doing early in the year," Casey said. "We're just not hitting. Some guys are starting to taper off a little bit."
Morton opens the playoffs against St. Ignatius in a regional semifinal Thursday and the winner likely sees top seed St. Rita in Saturday's regional championship game at Morton.
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