Due to his lineage, if Steinert’s freshman CJ Pittaro were a horse in this past weekends Kentucky Derby, he would be the odds on favorite to win. Pittaro’s dad is a former professional baseball player, his mother is one of the greatest soccer players in Mercer County History, his grandfather is the namesake of Rider University’s baseball field, and his grandmother won a state championship coaching at Nottingham.
Perhaps no one is more aware of CJ’s athletic ancestry than CJ. Each and every time the lefty steps up to bat, his father’s name is visibly mounted on the right field wall.
Starting on the fourth best team in the state of New Jersey, as a freshman is a daunting task in it’s own right. Starting as a freshman for Steinert, and having to live up to an absurdly prized family of athletic achievements seems down right impossible. Pittaro will tell you differently, “I don’t really think about it (his father’s name being in outfield horizon) obviously it’s in the back of my mind. I try to go out there and be myself and prove what I can personally do.”
Pittaro’s head coach Brian Gialella (who knows a thing or two about having to live up to families past legacies) will also tell you, CJ is far from phased, “CJ doesn’t play or act like a freshman. He is composed, focused and of course has the skill to play at the varsity level.”
Stating that CJ “has the skill set to play at the varsity level” is a humble understatement. Despite being a freshman, Pittaro is batting .378 on the season with 5 doubles, 2 homeruns, and 27 RBI’s (tied for the team lead).
In his most recent game against Princeton Day School, CJ accounted for 7 of the 10 runs Steinert scored. The freshmen cleared the bases once with a double in the second inning, and then again in the fourth inning with a grand slam. Upon reflecting on his historic performance, Pittaro gave credit to his teammates and coaching staff, “It’s easy when you enjoy what your doing… I love the guys I play with…. And I love my coaching staff… I keep my mind clear and I have fun.” CJ is hitting a modest .500 in the Mercer County Tournament thus far.
Even Rich Fisher, the president of fish4scores.com who has been covering Mercer County Baseball for 37 years, understands just how special Pittaro is, “Of all the players I’ve ever covered, CJ Pittaro is without a doubt the best freshman hitter I’ve ever seen… He doesn’t hit like a freshman, he hits like a veteran.”
Pittaro certainly recognizes he doesn’t approach the game of baseball like a typical high school freshman would. Rewind to April 26th of this season, fresh off a walk off hit against Hamilton, Pittaro credited his legion play and teammates on how he constantly remains so poised. “I played legion over the summer and it gave me a ton of experience… My teammates don’t treat me like a freshman they treat me like one of the guys. The key for me is going out there and playing my game while having fun.”
It’s not a particularly difficult task to have fun when you’re a freshman playing on the fourth best team in the state of New Jersey while batting .378. Thankfully for Steinert fans, they too will have fun watching CJ for the next three seasons.