A lost baseball season
Vinny Castrine sent Duran Porrino a text message just to let him know he was ready.
A member of Porrino’s Northwestern baseball teams that advanced to the state playoffs in each of the past two years, Castrine was eager to make one more run at postseason glory as a senior.
Castrine and countless other athletes found out Thursday they won’t get that chance.
The PIAA announcement that it was canceling the remaining winter sports championships and the spring sports season was a devastating blow for athletes, coaches and administrators who tried to come to grips with the decision.
“I guess the best word would probably be emotional,” said Porrino. “Especially for this senior group, because we had really, really high expectations. It gives me chills just talking about it.
“We had the best winter you could ever imagine with weather; we got out on the field right away. We even got a scrimmage in against a great Brandywine team program and got to see a Division 1 pitcher against them, and we just felt really, really good about where our program was and how this team was.”
Castrine had reached out to Porrino just days earlier to let him know how excited he was about the Tigers’ prospects for the season. Now the coach was wondering what might have been.
“It’s been tough,” said Porrino. “Some of these seniors have been texting me now just telling me how sad they are. It’s been a rough spring.”
The program has experienced great success in recent seasons – including a District 11 title in 2018.
“I am happy that a lot of these seniors over the past two years have really been able to contribute,” said Porrino. “I feel like Vinny has been with us forever. We’ve played five state playoff games over the last two years and he’s pitched in three of them. He’s really upset about his senior year, but he’s already left his legacy here at Northwestern, and that’s what I told him.
“And Nate Goodolf, he’s been in the starting lineup since his freshman year. Conner Snyder has had his time to shine. For those guys, I’m very happy that they have sort of been able to leave their mark.”
But Porrino also pointed to a player who didn’t get a chance to contribute on those squads.
“Joey Frey is a kid who waited his turn and he probably would have been a top-of-the rotation guy at almost every school the last couple years,” Porrino said of the senior. “We’ve just had such a deep team that this year was going to be his chance. He had an awesome winter and an awesome spring, and we were so excited for him to have his moment.
“So it’s really heartbreaking for a kid like that. There’s really nothing you can say to him. There are some kids who are going to play in college, but for him, this was it. This was probably going to be his last time to play. And he would have been a huge part of our program and our success this year.”
Northwestern defeated Danville in a PIAA Class 4A play-in game before falling to East Pennsboro in the first round. The Tigers advanced to the 4A semis in 2018.
Over the last two years, Northwestern has posted a 41-13 record and appeared in back-to-back Colonial League Championships, and back-to-back District 11 4A Championship games.