In Joe Fragano’s first start as a pitcher in his sophomore year against Keller, he didn’t make it out of the first inning.
Recently, when the now senior Central pitcher took to the mound against the same school, Fragano registered a no-hitter and helped the Chargers earn a 1-0 win over Keller.
He admitted he didn’t have his best pitches working, and the defense did its part well. “It was my last time to throw against Keller, so it meant a lot to me,” he said.
Last year, Fragano said he made just five starts in the district schedule, but this year he’s one of the regular starters, normally seeing action in the early-week games.
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The bumpy road has shown that Fragano and his fellow Chargers are developing in many ways.
“My sophomore year, I was taking it all in,” Fragano said. “That year and being on JV really helped me.”
His goals for this season, though, include developing his change-up and improving the velocity of his fastball.
Fragano said the fastball is his “go-to” pitch, but he also has a decent slider. Between those two pitches, Fragano said he can determine which will work best with each batter.
“I can elevate a fastball if they don’t go to the slider in the dirt,” he said.
Adding a change-up, he said, will be what he’ll look to add in to his repertoire and not go to the curve as much.
“I threw the curve when mostly when I was younger,” Fragano said, “and never really threw a change-up.”
It’s hard to pinpoint when “younger” was for Fragano, as he said he has been playing baseball “for as long as I can remember.”
It was about seventh or eighth grade when Fragano said he began taking baseball seriously, though.
Pitching has always been his focus, too, although he has seen time at first base.
As a hitter, Fragano said he can hold his own. “I’m a pitcher. I don’t hit much and the one time I got up to bat, I did get a single,” he said proudly.
Fragano also wants to further develop his pitches and develop as a baseball player as he will move on to play at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.
“I want to develop my velocity and go deeper into games,” he added. “I think I have a good handle on the mental side. I can locate my pitches and the next step is to ramp up my velocity and be more overpowering.”
As one of about a dozen seniors, Fragano’s contributions have also been as a leader.
“I try to be a leader (to the younger players) as much as I can and at the same time, you want them to have their own game, too,” Fragano said. “We’re a team and we know what we’re doing, and we just have to be ready to get it done.”
Fragano and the Chargers will be working toward a school-first baseball playoff appearance this year.