Baseball: Pitching or hitting, Poliwoda’s a force

Alex Poliwoda's pitching arm and big bat are pluses for a Southold team that is virtually unchanged since last year. (Credit: Garret Meade)
Alex Poliwoda’s pitching arm and big bat are pluses for a Southold team that is virtually unchanged since last year. (Credit: Garret Meade)

All signs are pointing toward a good season for the Southold High School baseball team. Not only is the team virtually unchanged from last year’s 14-9 playoff squad, but its starting pitching rotation of Alex Poliwoda, Anthony Fedele and Rob Mahony remains intact.

The First Settlers will be even tougher yet if Poliwoda becomes as dominating a presence on the pitching mound as coach Mike Carver anticipates.

“I expect good things from him for this year,” said Carver.

Poliwoda said he likes the defensive side of the game as much as the offensive. He is an impact player on both ends.

Southold may be at its best when Poliwoda, a junior right-hander who earned All-League recognition last year, is on the mound. That’s because in those situations it is most likely that Fedele will be catching and Mahony will be playing shortstop. Those two seniors will both be entering their fourth varsity season, something Poliwoda should do next year.

Poliwoda, who can play third base or first base when he’s not pitching, will bat in the cleanup spot, said Carver.

“He’s stronger and his bat speed already, I can see, increased,” Carver said. “His hands are coming through the zone really quick. He’s going to have a very nice year this year.”

When Carver’s encouraging words were relayed to him after Tuesday’s indoor practice, Poliwoda said they were nice to hear but “I still have to work hard to get where I have to be this season.”

Poliwoda’s arsenal of pitches includes four- and two-seam fastballs, a changeup and a slider.

Carver said Poliwoda’s best asset as a pitcher is his control. The coach said he asks Poliwoda to “get ahead of the batter so he can keep the pitch count down. That’s the name of the game, too. He’s going to have a good defense behind him this year, so you don’t have to go and strike everybody out. Let the defense do its job.”

Fedele, who is in his fourth year as the team’s starting catcher, likes the way Poliwoda handles adversity.

“He tries his best to stay cool,” Fedele said. “It’s hard as a pitcher if you’re in a rut to get out, but he always seems to find his way out.”

Poliwoda, who threw a no-hitter last year against Greenport, said: “I definitely feel stronger, I feel more confident, and I’m definitely ready. I got more experience. I should hopefully know the ropes by now.”

[email protected]