Shortstop shows love for NYU, baseball

Jonathan Schifman, Staff Writer

When freshman shortstop Jonathan Iaione steps into the batter’s box, personal statistics are the last thing on his mind.

“I go up to the plate every time and think about hitting the baseball hard,” Iaione said. “The numbers will speak for themselves after the season.”

The numbers thus far have been hard to ignore. Iaione, the Violets’ regular cleanup hitter who has also seen time in the third and fifth spots in the lineup, is batting .301 and is tied for third on the team with 18 RBIs and 18 runs scored. Iaione has had success hitting everything that opposing pitchers have served up to him this year.

“Batting in the middle of the order, you can always expect a heavy dose of off-speed pitches,” Iaione said. “I am always looking to drive a fastball and adjust to a curve. For me, having an up-the-middle approach allows me to adjust to any pitch in any location.”

The freshman’s quick start for the Violets is a continuation of his success from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where he was a four-year team member and named to five different all-star teams in his junior and senior years.

But playing collegiate baseball has been a very new experience for Iaione, his teammates, and NYU as a whole — NYU, in their first year back as a varsity program in 41 years, has one of the youngest teams in the country, with 21 freshmen on its 29-man roster.

“We’re just so young and it’s been an adjustment for all of us,” Iaione said. “But there’s no doubt we have a lot of talent. With some good recruits coming in to fill some holes, we can be a very dangerous team. We should definitely start competing for a UAA title and an NCAA tournament bid in the next few seasons.”

Iaione’s best game came on April 3 in an 8-5 win against Skidmore College, where he went 2-for-3 with a base-clearing triple that broke a 3-3 tie. He also went 4-for-4 in the Violets’ 10-2 blowout win against Cairn University on March 18, scoring two runs and driving in two more.

With 15 games left this season, Iaione is hoping to improve defensively to close out the year.

“Shortstop is a very difficult position to play,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into playing a great short. I need to continue to work on my footwork, attacking balls and other aspects of the position. A lot of this comes with repetition.”

Iaione, a New York Mets fan who is in the business and technology management program in the Polytechnic School of Engineering, almost chose to attend Johns Hopkins University before deciding on NYU a year ago. With his freshman year almost complete, he has nothing to regret about his decision.

“NYU has given me all I could ever ask for,” he said. “Being able to start every game as a freshman, being able to play in a beautiful ballpark such as MCU, and being able to start our own legacy. It’s something very unique and I never take it for granted.”

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 16 print edition. Email Jonathan Schifman at [email protected]