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Softball showcase to feature new format

Alisha Szumigala (7) of Forestville attempts to slide around a tag from an ECIC shortstop during the Second Annual Underclassmen Softball Showcase last summer. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
This year’s softball showcase will be featured with a different format.

Rob Catalino of North Collins is running the Third Annual Underclassmen Softball Showcase Aug. 17 at the North Collins Sports Complex.

The baseball showcase will be held at the same venue on Aug.16.

The showcase puts many of the area’s best players on the same diamond to have fun playing the sport while displaying their skills for many college coaches from all across the Northeast region, ranging from junior college to Division I programs.

While there were many players involved in the three softball games that took place in North Collins last summer, Catalino decided that there were just too many participants. So the rosters were trimmed down and some teams were changed.

While the CCAC, NFL and ECIC division were their own teams last summer, the Monsignor Martin Association teamed up with the Buffalo Public Schools to form the fourth squad. However, less than half of the team were MMA players and only one city school girl was on the roster. The rest of the spots were made up of ECIC schools.

This summer’s showcase with split up the ECIC’s four divisions, placing ECIC I and IV with MMA and ECIC II and III with the Buffalo Public School players.

“Last year there was a hodgepodge of kids,” said Catalino, who runs the showcase himself while sponsors, coaches and others pitch in to help out.

“There wasn’t really a Monsignor Martin team. So this year, and because ECIC is so big - there’s 29 schools and a lot of kids there, which is not fair because if you take one kid from each school you’d leave out half the schools. Eden has three All-WNY players and you can’t leave them out. But the format’s the same.”

The showcase began in 2012 as a one day event with four teams. The baseball showcase featured one game and the softball showcase played one game, as well, both during the same day.

The event grew in 2013 and a tournament format was created between four teams on each day.

About 160 softball and baseball players made up the rosters last summers, which Catalino found to be too much. So the number of participants were cut down to about 140 this summer.

The program has been a success in terms of its goal to get the athletes exposure. Over 100 players that participated in the showcase during the last two years are currently playing college softball or baseball.

“It’s hard to tell where they get seen first,” said Catalino. “There was about 19 or 20 softball coaches there. The main thing is I can’t tell if a kid is going to hit a home run or walk four times. But it gets their names out there to the coaches and the coaches can take these programs home and sending letters to the kids.”

Programs that provide contact information, high school honors, college plans and a players’ favorite athletes are also at the showcase, giving college coaches and scouts the opportunity to get to know the players better.

A few changes have been made for this summer’s showcase and there is also more to come in the future.

Games used to be nine innings long, but they will now be cut down to seven.

There is also a possibility for a five-inning consolation games in the near future, as well as a home run derby and a base-running contest.

As a fundraiser, North Collins will be holding chicken barbecues during the baseball and softball games to raise money for batting cages for the spring of 2015.

Catalino is also running a golf tournament in September with Paul Kellner, North Collins’ baseball coach.

Softball players are selected to the showcase based on their honors from the 2014 spring season. First team All-WNY selections are considered first, followed by All-WNY honorable mentions, then first team all-league players are next followed by second team all-league selections.

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