Jake Marchesano had plenty of options.
Coming into his freshman year at Archbishop Ryan High School, he would have made his brothers Shawn and Nick happy if he followed in their footsteps and started wrestling for the Raiders.
He probably would have been his uncle’s favorite nephew if he decided to give soccer a chance because his uncle is the coach of the Raiders, Ryan Haney.
And while he likes both of those sports, and would have probably been happy – and successful – had he played them, he decided to focus on baseball.
“Baseball, I don’t know, I’ve just been playing baseball since really young,” said Marchesano, a middle infielder who also had a sister Ashly play basketball and soccer at Ryan. “I enjoyed it the most out of all sports. My brothers wanted me to wrestle, but I talked it over with my dad, and we decided that I would just stick with baseball. I don’t think my uncle minded, I’m not really a soccer guy.
“I used to wrestle and both of my brothers were really good, but I don’t do it anymore. I’m just putting everything I have into baseball.”
It’s working out pretty well.
For the bulk of his freshman year, Marchesano started at shortstop for the Raiders. He also saw some time at second base. And at the plate, he hit near the top of the order, mostly in the two hole.
It helped that he started working out with the baseball team last year. By the time the season rolled around, even though it was his first year playing varsity baseball, he had a great routine down and knew what was expected of him.
“I didn’t know I was going to be on varsity or start until the end of summer last year when I started working out with the team,” Marchesano said. “We had a lot of good players and we were excited for the year.”
But it didn’t go as expected.
The young Raiders didn’t win a game during the Catholic League schedule, which means no playoffs. But don’t think just because the team didn’t win meant it was an unsuccessful season. It might not have meant more wins, but the team improved every time they took the field, and since most of the team was made up of underclassmen, it means this year’s struggles will lead to good things down the road.
“Baseball was rough, this year, but even though it was rough, we fought the whole time,” Marchesano said. “We fought the whole time. We played a lot of good teams and we always kept it close. We didn’t win because there were some times we couldn’t finish games, but I’m proud of what we did.
“My role was really just to fit in and help wherever I can. I was a freshman, so I was learning a lot. I tried my best and did whatever I could to help the seniors and older players. I think we all got better this year. They helped me a lot, too. I was really nervous going in, but next year I’ll have a lot more confidence and I think we’ll be a really good team. We’ll be a lot better.”
Marchesano had a solid season defensively and seemed to get better at the plate every time he had an at-bat.
On the season, the Raiders had only two freshmen play varsity, but they also had only three seniors on the roster.
So next year the team should look very similar.
“At the end of the year, we brought another freshman, but for most of the year, I was the only one,” Marchesano said. “It was hard, but working out in the summer brought me closer to the guys, and the more I played with them, the more comfortable I got. By the end of the year, I was really comfortable.
“It was a big jump, playing bigger and better competition. I got the hang of it as the season went on. We saw some good pitchers who threw very hard, but by the end of the season, I knew what to expect.”
Marchesano is now turning his attention to summer leagues, where he plays for the Tri-State Arsenal, a showcase team, and also on the Lower Southampton American Legion team.
“Summer league just started,” Marchesano said. “Most of the guys are from South Jersey, a lot from North Jersey, too. It’s real good competition, it’s hard, but I like the kids so it’s a lot of fun. Playing with people you’re friends with makes it easier, I think.”
It should also prepare him for his second year on the team. Next year, he hopes to continue playing great defense and improving on his hitting.
“My strength is in the field,” said Marchesano, who is involved in Athletes Helping Athletes. “I love when the ball is hit to me. And I’m getting more and more comfortable at the plate, more comfortable in the box. I’m more of a gap-to-gap hitter, but I’m hitting with more power now.
“I really want to win for Ryan. I think we can be good next year. The Catholic League is tough, but we’re going to be good.”