Different at ‘Dozo: Judges star hoping changes spark success

Cardozo senior Michael Coletta hit nearly .600 in his first seven PSAL games this season, but the Judges’ captain isn’t worried about his stats this season.
Community News Group / Laura Amato
By Laura Amato

It’s different this year.

Michael Coletta isn’t trying to knock the ball out of the park every time he steps up to the plate and isn’t too worried about his stats or where he’s sitting compared to his teammates and the rest of the league.

This year, Coletta and the Cardozo baseball team are focusing on the little things, and it might make all the difference in the world.

“We were going to have to work harder than the first three years,” Coletta said. “So we work a lot harder. Last year, we took more days off. We barely have days off anymore. And everyone knows their role, that’s the big thing.”

Coletta’s role, as far as he’s concerned, is to lead this team. He’s one of three captains for the Judges and as a four-year varsity standout, the senior is determined to make sure he sets an example every time he puts on his uniform.

So far, he’s done a pretty good job and has backed up his talk with strong performances on the field.

Coletta isn’t trying to be the top hitter in the city, but in the first couple of weeks of the season, he’s managed to do just that. In his first seven PSAL games, Coletta boasted a division-best .591 batting average, connecting on 13 hits, including seven doubles.

Of course, those numbers don’t just happen. While Coletta isn’t letting his competitive tendencies get the better of him this year, he’s also the first to admit he’s put some serious work in.

“Reggie Jackson used to say, hitting is repetition. So I’m hitting every day and that’s what works for me the most,” he said. “But if you take 100 swings and 90 of them are bad, it doesn’t really mean anything. But if you take 50 good swings, then it’s better than those 90 bad swings. So I’m just hitting every day, 200 to 400 swings a day.”

The key for Coletta — and for ’Dozo, which came up short in the postseason last year — is getting back to the basics. The little things are going to win games and right now, that’s all this team cares about.

“Last year, we were a little selfish. That’s good and bad, but we were a little selfish because everybody was all about the stats,” Coletta said.

“This year, we keep using the phrase ‘role players.’ We have kids who only pinch run, kids who won’t get in for five games at a time, but when they do, they make the most of it.”

Coletta knows the next few weeks won’t be easy. Cardozo is playing without a home field and the league is chock-full of talent. That doesn’t, however, mean he’s lacking for goals.

He wants to win a title, wants to get back to Yankee Stadium and, for the first time since he was a freshman, bring a trophy back to ‘Dozo.

If that means taking more practice swings or even focusing on the basics of baseball, Coletta is willing to do it.

After all, he’s certain, this season is different than any other one he’s played.

“[Winning a championship] would mean the world, actually,” Coletta said.

“We don’t have a field and to win a championship under those conditions is pretty insane. I don’t think any team has done something like that.”

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