Amsterdam High School junior Carson Cotugno made a verbal commitment over the weekend to play baseball for Wake Forest University and head coach Tom Walter, who has a reputation for sending Demon Deacons to the next level.
Thirty of Walter's players in the last seven years were either drafted by Major League teams or signed professional contracts
"It's a dream of mine to play pro ball," Cotugno, a right-handed pitcher, said. "He [Walter] is known for developing players, so that was a big part of my decision."
The 16-year-old Cotugno made an official visits to Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Xavier, and made a call to Walter Saturday night informing him of his decision to join the Atlantic Coach Conference program in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"The weather is so nice," Cotugno said. "The baseball facilities are top of the line. It's ACC baseball. They've got great academics, too, and that was important."
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Cotugno said over 40 Division I colleges expressed interest in him.
"My personal pitching coach was part of that," Cotugno said of Dennis Healy, who in the past had served as Wake Forest's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. "He has so many connections."
Cotugno went 5-1 with a 1.86 ERA as a sophomore with 51 strikeouts in 46 innings. The Foothills Council first-team all-star has a fastball that has been clocked at 89 miles per hour.
"I am working with a personal trainer and getting stronger," Cotugno said. "I want to hit 90."
Cotugno went the distance when Amsterdam beat Albany Academy 10-0 in a Section II Class A quarterfinal game last season. Afterward Cotugno took the loss in relief — he worked eight innings — when the Rams lost to Averill Park in a 3-2, 13-inning semifinal. Amsterdam finished with an 18-2 record under coach Rob Hisert.
"From a team standpoint, I want to win. All of us are excited to start grinding," Cotugno said. "From a personal standpoint, I want to attack and get more first-pitch strikes."
Cotugno showcased his pitching talent over the summer while a member of the Hayner Academy Barnstormers coached by Norm Hayner. Cotugno credited Hayner, Healy and Hisert with helping him develop into a Division I talent.
"I didn't do it all by myself," Cotugno said. "I want to thank my family and all of my coaches for the help they have given me."
Shenendehowa senior third baseman Jake Reinisch made a commitment to Wake Forest before his junior year. Former Niskayuna outfielder Garrett Whitley had made a commitment to Wake Forest before he was drafted out of high school in the first round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015.
DELSIGNORE TO NC STATE
Shenendehowa wrestler Brock Delsignore has made a verbal commitment to compete and study at North Carolina State, where he will join several others there with Section II connections.
N.C. State is coached by Niskayuna graduate Pat Popolizio, and his roster includes 2019 Shenendehowa graduate Kiernan Shanahan and 2018 Ballston Spa graduates Tyler Barnes and Jake Cook. The school's alumni include Duanesburg's Nick Gwiazdowski, who won NCAA heavyweight titles while with the Wolfpack.
Nick Popolizio's brother, Frank Popolizio, runs the Journeymen Wrestling Club of which Delsignore is a member, and Shanahan, Barnes, Cook and Gwiazdowski represented.
"Ultimately, familiarity won over," Frank Popolizio said of Delsignore's choice between N.C. State and other programs from Penn, Lehigh and Northern Iowa. "He's been going to camps and clinics there for 10 years."
"I've known the coaches for half of my life," Delsignore said. "I know some of the guys and get along well with them."
Delsignore won 145-pound Section II Class A and Division I titles last season — his first with Shenendehowa — and has gained 40 pounds since that season.
"I didn't want to be a little guys all my life," Delsignore said. "I have been working out every day, and I mean every day. I am doing the right things and making gains."
Delsignore wrestled for South Glens Falls for three years before heading to Shenendehowa. He qualified for the state tournament in each of the last three seasons, but did not place.
"Not the way I wanted it to turn out," Delsignore said. "I am aiming for a state title this year."
Frank Popolizio said the recruiting of Delsignore picked up a notch after he won the 170-pound title late last month at the Journeymen Fall Classic. He went 4-1 in a field that included several highly-ranked wrestlers.
"It made me feel great that a lot of people wanted me," Delsignore said.