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Senior Baseball Player Shines

Visual Mirchandani, Senior Staff Writer

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During the summer of 2016, scholar athlete Christopher Stefl of Floral Park Memorial High School decided he wanted to take his talents to the next level. The baseball superstar, who has been on the varsity at Floral Park since the 8th grade, committed to St. John’s University in Queens, New York. St. John’s, a fine local university known for many strong academic programs, also competes in Division I athletics. Stefl impressed the coaching staff enough during the recruiting process to warrant an offer to continue his passion for baseball next year as a first baseman for the Red Storm. St. John’s just completed a very impressive season, culminating in a trip to the College World Series Tournament.

When his senior season began at Floral Park, Stefl was looking to sharpen his skills and help the Knights recover from a difficult campaign last year. When asked what he wanted to accomplish in his final season, Stefl said, “I’d love to have a winning record, clinch a spot in the playoffs and have a good final season in a Knights uniform.” Mission accomplished as Floral Park met every one of Stefl’s lofty goals.

When asked about his experience coaching Stefl for three years, Mr. Pugliese responded, “Those three years were very special to me. From my first day with Chris I knew that he had a special talent. Chris always had a unique way of carrying himself on the baseball field. For an 8th grader he was already showing many signs of a great leader. Chris began his varsity tenure as an 8th grader. That’s when many people knew he was going to become a special player. Day in and day out he would go out on the field with the mentality of, I am going to do my best and let’s see if you can beat it, and this is the reason, I believe, that he has gotten to where he is now. As a person Chris was always humble and never tried to show off to others. I could not have been more thrilled for him when I found out he committed to St. John’s, because I could not think of a single person who deserves it more than him.”

Although Chris committed to St. John’s for baseball, he is also looking forward to continuing his academic success as a finance major. “Although I am going on a baseball scholarship, I know it is very important to keep up academically,” said the five-year varsity vet. With his dad always pushing him in baseball, Chris has had an equally driven mother who made him focus on his academics when he wasn’t on the baseball field.

“Chris is a polite, respectful and very intelligent young man,” said Mr. Simone, who had the pleasure of teaching Stefl in both 7th grade and Advanced Placement United States History. “I am so excited for him that he will be continuing his education nearby at such a high level of play.”

Stefl and the Knights enjoyed a very impressive season. With a 7-7-1 record in Conference A-IV, Floral Park had to play an outbracket game.  After advancing into the playoffs with a 6-2 win over Roslyn, the Knights were placed in a four-team pool with number one seed Seaford and defending New York State Champion Wantagh, quite a daunting challenging. The format has the four teams playing a round robin, double elimination schedule before one team advances to the Nassau County semi-finals. Behind a complete game, eight strikeout performance by Kyle Bacchus, Floral Park opened the playoffs with a stunning 5-1 victory over top seeded Seaford. The Knights then lost to Wantagh 15-0, but rebounded to eliminate Seaford with an 8-4 victory. Floral Park needed to defeat Wantagh twice in order to advance. The Knights gave a valiant effort, but eventually fell to Wantagh 14-0.

Stefl was one of only 23 players in Nassau County selected to compete in the Blue Chip Grand Slam Challenge, an all-star event to help raise money for Cohen Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park. Stefl was also named to Newsday’s First-Team All Long Island team, quite an impressive accomplishment.

Congratulations to Stefl and the entire baseball team on a great season.

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