By Rubin E. Grant
Sonny DiChiara’s senior baseball season didn’t end with another state championship, but it was satisfying, nonetheless.
“It was really a more relaxed year, coming off a state championship,” DiChiara said. “I played loose and was having fun with it.”
For DiChiara, having fun equaled a productive season as a first baseman and pitcher. At the plate, He batted .472 (51 of 108) with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and 46 runs batted in, helping the Bucs reach the Class 7A state playoffs. On the mound, he had a 2-1 record with seven saves, a 1.67 earned-run average and 39 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched.
His performance has earned him the Over the Mountain Journal’s 2018 Co-Baseball Player of the Year along with Homewood’s senior center fielder Josh Hall.
“That’s awesome,” DiChiara said of the honor. “I think I had a successful year.”
Hoover coach Adam Moseley agreed.
“I thought he reached his potential because he was healthy. He had a full offseason of throwing and hitting,” Moseley said.
During the Bucs’ 2017 championship season, DiChiara was relegated to being the team’s designated hitter because of offseason Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
“With that behind me this year is why I just wanted to relax and not put any pressure on myself and just have fun,” he said.
“He’s a fun-loving guy,” Moseley said, “but he handles it the right way. Because of that, it makes him a great leader and competitor.”
The Bucs finished 35-10 after being eliminated in the third game of their best-of-3 first-round playoff series against eventual Class 7A runner-up Hewitt-Trussville.
“Even though we didn’t win, both teams fought hard to the end,” DiChiara said. “We lost to the runners-up for the state championship, so you can’t be too upset about that.”
This summer, DiChiara is playing travel ball before heading to Samford University to play collegiately. “I am going to go to Samford and continue to work hard to become a better player,” he said.
Moseley believes DiChiara has a bright future.
“I think he’ll step right in and compete for a job,” Moseley said. “He’s a special talent. For him to be in the mix coming in as a freshman says a lot about him as a player.”
Samford coach Casey Dunn certainly is glad to have DiChiara as a part of the Bulldogs’ program.
“Sonny is someone I have known for a long time,” Dunn said at the time of DiChiara’s signing. “He is the guy you want at the plate or on the mound with the game on the line.
“We expect Sonny to be someone we can count on to finish games on the mound and provide a powerful right-handed bat at the plate. Playing for coach Moseley and coach (Ehren) Wassermann, who is a Samford alum, I know he will be ready to contribute early.”