Zingarella Makes Key Contributions to Huskies’ Playoff Run
There are no guarantees for a baseball player to continue in the game once their time in high school is finished. Many athletes see their careers come to an end with that final pitch. However, Mike Zingarella got an opportunity to play ball with the Clinton Huskies’ 19-U AAU team following his career at Morgan and helped the club go on a memorable run to the championship game of the East Shore Travel League Playoffs this summer.
Mike’s skills and flexibility as a shortstop, catcher, and pitcher proved a huge help for the Clinton Huskies in the 2022 season. He was willing to play any position where his team needed him on the field. While competing in the program for the past few years, Mike embraced the team vibe among the Huskies and loved being part of an exciting playoff run for Head Coach Willie Fritz’s team during the recent campaign.
“It was a good time. We definitely have our fun playing summer baseball,” says Mike. “It’s not the most serious thing in the world, and Coach Fritz likes to make that known.”
Mike’s ability to act as a role model while performing as a leader was a vital factor in the Huskies’ strong finish to their summer. Clinton had some ups and downs throughout the regular season, but then went to Delaware at the end of July to participate in a tournament against some difficult competition. Mike enjoyed the experience in Delaware and feels that it helped the Huskies turn things around and start heading in the right direction just in time for the playoffs.
“We go to that tournament in Delaware every year, which is always fun. It’s good to get the competitiveness of other states and not just play kids in the same state as you,” Mike says. “We didn’t have a good season in the regular season, but after Delaware, something clicked, and everybody started playing baseball like we learned how to.”
After returning from Delaware, Mike and the Huskies notched a couple of victories in the East Shore Travel League Playoffs to advance to the title game, where Clinton took a 4-3 defeat to the Bridgeport Bluefish. Mike had an RBI single for the Huskies in the contest. Despite the loss, it meant a lot to Mike to see his team play its best baseball of the year under the postseason spotlight. Clinton finished the season with an overall record of 11-8-1.
“We made a run in the playoffs. It was definitely a challenge. At the beginning, everybody was up in the air about playing, because we were missing a decent amount of the kids at games sometimes,” says Mike. “All of the kids that did show up played as hard as they can, and that’s what really turned it around.”
Coach Fritz has watched Mike grow up playing baseball in Clinton since his days in Little League. Fritz describes Mike as a shining example of how a leader should conduct themselves both on the field and in the dugout.
“He comes back every year, and he’s a go-getter. He’s one of those guys that keeps other guys’ heads in the game,” Fritz says. “He’s a leader. He leads by his actions. He always shows up ready to go.”
Mike has been playing under Coach Fritz’s guidance since he was a 14-year-old competing on a Huskies’ 16-U ballclub. Mike’s experience of playing baseball for Morgan before graduating in 2020 also played an integral role in shaping his playing style as he dedicated himself to the game.
“I actually got real lucky because, my freshman year, I was part of the team that went to the semifinals for states. I played with a lot of the guys that played in the State Tournament before then,” says Mike, who also played football at Morgan. “Sophomore year, we got a new coach, and everything started fresh. We made it to the playoffs both years he was there, and we could have made a run.”
Everything that Mike learned while playing high school baseball made him that much better when it came time to suit up for the Huskies’ 19-U team. Mike liked serving as a leader for a group of athletes with whom he had grown up playing baseball. The relationships that Mike created with those players continued to grow as they shined on the diamond with the Huskies. The memories that Mike made with his teammates and Coach Fritz were among his favorite takeaways from the summer season.
“We always have fun, whether it’s Coach Fritz joking around, giving kids a hard time, and making everybody else laugh,” Mike says. “He does pull out some crazy lines in the middle of games.”
Mike is entering his sophomore year at Central Connecticut State University, where he plays club baseball. Mike works for an excavation company in Clinton and is learning more about the industry as he studies construction management in college.
As he focuses on the next steps in life, Mike will always cherish the bonds that he’s formed with his colleagues in Clinton. Those friendships made Mike’s time with the Huskies enjoyable and showed him that there is something bigger to take away from the game than wins and losses.
“It definitely makes the game a lot easier because, over the years, you build chemistry with those kids. You know how they play,” says Mike. “You know where they’re going to be when they’re going to be there. That team is probably one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on.”