Baseball player discusses former team, decision to join URI, career aspirations
When Pat Fortunato first put on a college uniform in 2008 at Winthrop University in South Carolina, he was a pitcher.
Today he is the starting second basemen for the University of Rhode Island baseball team. How times have changed.
"Believe it or not it came down to a couple of schools coming out of high school and URI was one of them," Fortunato said. "But I decided to go down south; every Northeast kid's dream is to go down South, get out of the Northeast. Things didn't work out there so it's weird that I ended up at URI."
At Fairfield College Preparatory School in Fairfield, Conn., Fortunato helped lead the Jesuits to a state semi-final appearance in 2007. He was selected to the all-state team twice and participated in the Connecticut All-Star game his junior and senior years. Fortunato also played for the Fairfield basketball team.
Fortunato gave up his scholarship at Winthrop (to his parents' chagrin) to come closer to home. He said that he enjoyed the Southern experience, but missed home.
"Being down South was fun, and the baseball was great, but my parents couldn't come see me play every day," Fortunato said. "I was pitching every day and I wanted to play the field. Here it turned out great."
After an up-and-down year in 2011 Fortunato has turned it on in 2012. He is one of three players to have started all 26 games for the Rams this season, and his .304 batting average is the fourth highest on the team. His .446 slugging percentage is second on the team amongst players who have played 23 games or more.
In the field Fortunato has been nearly flawless. His 64 assists are second on the team, and his 54 putouts are fifth-most on the squad. His .976 fielding percentage is the sixth-highest on the team.
Rhode Island head coach Jim Foster said that Fortunato is the type of player he looks to have on his team.
"He's obviously an outstanding athlete," Foster said. "He's a kid with tools across the board. For him to do a good job for us is pretty exciting. I think his best days are ahead of him. He's starting to feel comfortable and feel it out a bit. I think you're going to see a great deal of improvement in him over the next year and a half."
Foster went on to say that he would have no problem having Fortunato step on the mound if the situation arose.
"We hope he can help us on the mound at some point whether it be this year or next year," Foster said.
As consistent as Fortunato has been this year, he says that there is always room for improvement.
"I'm kind of taking it game by game,"Fortunato said. My last couple of days have been a struggle which is good. It's good to struggle a little bit so you can learn from mistakes you're making; you're not cruising the entire season. There's no such thing as that."
A communications studies major, Fortunato has little interest in pursuing a career in broadcasting or communications once his days patrolling Bill Beck Field are over.
He said that he'd rather work with children.
"I kind of want to work with kids," Fortunato said. "I work at a Boys and Girls club in Southport, Conn. every now and then. I know there's not that much money in it, but it's fun."
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