With Freshman Applegate Making Sudden Impact, Powerful Hun Baseball Looking Like a Juggernaut
OUT OF THE GATE: Hun School baseball player Carson Applegate takes off after hitting the ball in recent action. Freshman center fielder Applegate has been a catalyst in the leadoff spot as Hun has gotten off to a 7-0 start. In upcoming action, Hun hosts Princeton Day School on April 10, plays at Pennington on April 11, plays at Blair Academy on April 13, and then faces Immaculata High on April 15 at Diamond Nation. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Carson Applegate hasn’t wasted any time making an impact this spring for the Hun School baseball team.
The precocious freshman, who has already committed to attend the University of Kentucky and play for its Division I baseball program, has been the leadoff batter and starting center fielder for the Raiders from day one of his debut campaign.
Applegate has enjoyed carving out a role for the Raiders. “As long as I fit into the team, whatever works best for team,” said Applegate.
“We are practicing every day and getting better as a team, working to be the best we can.”
Last Saturday, with undefeated Hun trailing Peddie 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Applegate proved to be a catalyst for the team. After Ben Petrone drew a walk, Applegate legged out a double. He later scored the go-ahead run on a run-down play, inducing Peddie pitcher Latrell Reid to overthrow the relay.
“I was just trying to get on base; I know my teammates are alway behind me in everything that I do,” said Applegate.
“All the relationships we have built in the offseason just really came together in that last moment. I was just waiting for the pitcher to make a move and try to get the runner out at second and I went.”
With Hun having posted five straight routs to start the season, Applegate liked the character the Raiders displayed in rallying to the win over Peddie.
“We are just relentless,” asserted Applegate, who hit his first career homer as Hun
defeated St. Augustine 8-5 last Monday and improved to 7-0.
“We had it easy in the beginning of the season and just coming from behind shows what we really can do. It is going to be an exciting season
Applegate’s older brother, former Hun star Jason Applegate, now a senior pitcher for Villanova, has helped the freshman aspire to do big things.
“My brother is a huge influence on me,” said Applegate. “He always pushes me to be the best I can and I look up to him. He is my mentor.”
Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto was not surprised that Applegate helped spark the rally against Peddie.
“That is the kind of stuff he provides, he is such a great athlete and he is aggressive,” said Monfiletto.
“With him in the one hole, you can’t relax. If you put one over when he is at bat, he is going to go after it and he is going to get to base. He came through huge there. On the rundown, he went without me telling him. That is something we do practice, but he went at the right time and that was huge.”
In Monfiletto’s view, it was huge for Hun to pull out the win over the Falcons.
“I think it is great to go through a game like that,” said Monfiletto. “We knew exactly what we were going to get from Peddie. We knew they were going to be a really good test, especially with Latrell pitching, and he proved us right. He was fantastic all game long. They played excellent defense, they had some great swings, they were not intimidated at all by Jack [Erbeck].”
Senior pitcher Erbeck was very good in his own right, striking out six, walking one, and scattering three hits in going the distance.
“Jack had to work hard,” said Monfiletto. “He is great. They are an aggressive team and they have a lot of energy. It was good.”
Monfiletto likes the positive energy he is seeing from his squad so far this spring.
“I am happiest about how much they enjoy each other’s success,” said Monfiletto.
“The hitting has been great. We didn’t have many hits today but we hit the ball on the nose a couple of times, there was a diving catch in center field, [Dan] Melnick lined out to the right fielder and Jack Erbeck hit a 400-foot foul home run.”
In assessing the team’s successful start, Monfiletto pointed to its depth. “We have a lot people contributing to these wins,” said Monfiletto, citing the efforts of Dylan Gargano, Jacob Sloss, Cole Palmeri, Shaan Patel, and Anthony Bencardino. “They work really hard, the competition has been good so far.”
The Hun players have emphasized making incremental progress on a daily basis.
“We ask them to think individually about what they need to work on and every couple of days we will ask them them to verbalize that in front of the whole team,” said Monfiletto, whose team hosts Princeton Day School on April 10, plays at Pennington on April 11, plays at Blair Academy on April 13, and then faces Immaculata High on April 15 at Diamond Nation.
“Individually they have things they need to work on, whether it be more discipline at the plate, whether it be more aggressive at the plate, whether it be keeping everything in front of you in certain situations, or hitting cut-off men. Pitchers being aggressive early in the count. They have a good job individually of working on those things.”
Applegate, for his part, sees some very good things ahead for the Raiders.
“I think we have in it us to go win a championship this year; we have a lot of confidence,” said Applegate. “We just keep moving forward and getting better; that is what it is all about.”