West Orange HS baseball team enjoys great run; players, coach earn All-Area honors

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

WEST ORANGE – The West Orange High School varsity baseball team certainly achieved much success this season.

With a final record of 18-7, the Mountaineers advanced to the state sectional semifinals and also finished in second place in the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division behind Columbia and Verona, which tied for first place.

“This was our best year we’ve had in about 15 years and overall we really played good ball this season,” said head coach Stephan Zichella, whose squad fell short in the postseason in a 2-1 loss against Morristown.  “We had an amazing run and played exceptionally well in the second half of the season. We had our opportunities, but even with that loss, we showed we could play with the best of them.”

The following WOHS players have earned Worrall Media All-Area honors:

First Team: Andrew Scholz, Doug Hughes, Liam White and Chris Walker.

Second Team: Rob Parisi, Paul Casolaro and Kevin Rodriguez.

In addition, Zichella is the All-Area co-Coach of the Year, along with Nutley High School head coach Bob Harbison.

Individually, this year’s group was led by senior pitcher Andrew Scholz, whose efforts helped him earn First Team All-SEC-Liberty.

“He had a fantastic year. Andrew was hitting .500 up until the last week of the season and he was just a threat everywhere,” said the coach, adding that Scholz will continue his playing career at Arcadia College next year. “He’s a special player and he put up some pretty impressive stats for us this year.”

Indeed, the senior did have some big numbers this year with a .453 batting average to go with 34 hits and 33 RBI. On the mound, the pitcher earned a 4-2 record and had a 1.16 ERA.

Another player who helped lead the way for the team was senior shortstop Doug Hughes, who finished the year with a batting average of .440 and 16 stolen bases.

“Doug always got on base and made great things happen,” said Zichella of Hughes, who also earned First Team All-SEC-Liberty. “Doug was one of the best shortstops in the county and had so many big hits for us. Next year he will continue his playing career at Iona College.”

Similarly, senior Liam White also recorded First Team All-SEC Liberty recognition, earning a 6-3 record on the mound with a 2.96 ERA. Offensively, White finished with three home runs and 28 runs scored.

The other player who made First Team All-SEC Liberty was sophomore Chris Walker.

This season Walker dominated with a 4-0 record and a 0.34 ERA.

“He allowed one run in a little more than 20 innings pitched,” Zichella said.

Along with those players, Zichella said Rob Parisi, who will be attending Richard Stockton University in the fall, also made a significant contribution to the team. On the year, Parisi batted for an average of .300 with 25 runs scored with a .460 on-base percentage.

“He did some wonderful things for us as our leadoff hitter and we are certainly going to miss him a great deal next year,” said Zichella.

The coach also talked about senior pitcher Paul Casolaro, who earned a 4-2 record with a 1.94 ERA. At the plate, the senior hit for an average of .338.

“Paul, who is looking at a few local colleges, had a lot of big hits for us,” he said.

In addition, the coach also credited the play out of junior catcher Kevin Rodriguez.

“Defensively, he was our MVP as Kevin is one of the best catchers in the county and he really had a good season for us,” Zichella said.

Notably, other Mountaineers who played key roles for the squad were junior Jordan Stennet, and sophomores Vincent DeSantis, Tyree Bradley and Aaron Puryer.