Longtime Diamond Jack Pete Ciuffreda, an outfielder at Lafayette College, has been named Preseason All-Patriot League.
Ciuffreda and his Leopards teammates open their season a week from Friday (Feb. 18) at Wake Forest in North Carolina.
Ciuffreda is coming off a terrific sophomore season in which he batted .304 with 31 hits and scored 23 runs while starting all 31 games for Lafayette (14-17). He also ripped nine doubles, rocked two HRs and drove in a team-high 28 runs.
“Recognition and personal awards are always graciously received,” said Ciuffreda, fresh out of class on Wednesday morning. “However, the award I’m most invested in receiving is the Patriot League championship.”
The 6-1, 220-pound outfielder, always an aggressive and excellent baserunner, stole 12 bases in 13 attempts in 2021. He reached base at a .443 clip and posted a .451 slugging percentage to amass an impressive .894 OPS. The Hunterdon Central grad was named a Second Team All-Patriot League selection at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
“Pete is one of our leaders,” said Lafayette’s second-year coach Tim Reilly. “His work ethic and passion for the game pushes everyone to be better everyday. It has been a privilege to watch his development here over the last three years.”
Ciuffreda, an economics major, is joined on the All-Patriot League team by the Leopards’ middle-infield tandem of shortstop Justin Johnson and second baseman Blaze Fadio. Johnson is a senior and a North Hunterdon grad. Fadio is just a sophomore and an Audubon grad.
“I’m super excited to get the season rolling, as the talent and mindset of our team has risen to new heights,” said Ciuffreda. “After falling short of reaching the Patriot League championship series by one game last season, our goal is set on winning the championship this year.”
Ciuffreda can talk from experience when it comes to winning championships. He was the center fielder and energizer for a Hunterdon Central team that rolled to the 2018 NJSIAA Group 4 championship.
Lafayette’s fortunes in the conference are on the rise under Reilly. The Leopards were tabbed No. 3 in the coaches preseason poll, garnering two first place votes. Army and Navy were named the Patriot League’s Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the poll. Reilly came to Lafayette from Rutgers, where he was an assistant for six years after playing for the Scarlet Knights as a catcher.
Ciuffreda and his Lafayette teammates lost almost all of the 2020 season when the Patriot League and the NCAA canceled the slate at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lafayette had gotten just six games in at that point. A year ago, Lafayette, like most college baseball teams across the country, were relegated to a conference-only schedule as the pandemic retained its hold on the nation. But it’s back to business as usual in 2022 for the Leopards.
“Now it’s time to go between the lines and show everyone what it means to be a ‘Pard,” said Ciuffreda. “Let the games begin.”