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Rams’ Cotugno headed to Wake Forest

Amsterdam senior Carson Cotugno smiles after signing his National Letter of Intent Wednesday to attend and pitch for Wake Forest next year. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

AMSTERDAM — With family and friends looking on, Amsterdam High School senior Carson Cotugno signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and play baseball for the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest University.

“It is a dream for every single kid,” Cotugno said Wednesday. “Your parents always tell you that you have a chance and you are going to do this. My parents and my coaches believed in me. It is a great feeling.”

Amsterdam varsity baseball coach Robby Hisert said Cotugno can be successful at the Division-I college level.

“He has great projection at the next level just because of his size, long levers and all those things,” Hisert said. “Wake Forest and all the schools that were after him recognize that and see him probably as a top prospect and not just a college pitcher.”

Cotugno was looking to build on a 5-1 record in his sophomore season on the mound for the Rams in which he recorded 51 strikeouts in 46 innings of work. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to the 2020 season as teams were just starting practices in March.

“I think one of the things that has benefitted a lot of schools is, not only the lack of mileage on a lot of arms, but the wear-and-tear on the bodies through long seasons,” Hisert said. “We try to take care of our guys. We knew we had something special and we want to make sure he stays healthy. They [Demon Deacons] are probably real excited about having an extra year on the arm and maybe beyond.”

Cotugno has been working with pitching Coach Dennis Healy throughout his career to develop pitches and his approach to the game.

In eighth grade I started working with my pitching coach [Dennis Healy] and he has been the best thing that has every happened for me,” the 17-year-old Cotugno said. “He got me the inside track at Wake Forest. My high school coaches have worked with me every year. My slider started working when I was in ninth grade and I knew that was my out pitch. My fast ball had a tail on it and I am working on the velocity now, so hopefully we can get it up over 90 [mph] something.”

Hisert said Cotugno has been able to handle to the challenge of maturing during his high school career.

“A lot of guys it takes them time to learn how to control their body,” Hisert said. “Carson is athletic and as he got bigger and taller, he was able to make the adjustments he needed to make. He is getting stronger and able to throw harder, while staying consistent and in the strike zone.”

Getting prepared to play at the college level has presented another challenge for Cotugno.

“I am trying to gain weight to get a college body now,” he said. “My pitching coach has set me up with a nutritionist so I can gain weight the right way and eat the right stuff.”

Looking forward to playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for the Demon Deacons, Cotugno said, “They have lot of great players. I think they have two or three in the top 40 players in the country. Our plan is to go Omaha and win there. They offer that. Their facilities are amazing and you can’t get any better than that.”

He knows that breaking into the lineup will not be an easy task.

“I will have to outwork people. That is all it ever is,” Cotugno said. “They are going to be my teammates, but I am not going to be outworked in college. I have to eat the right foods and workout the right way.”

But first, Cotugno and the Rams are looking forward to playing this spring and putting another Foothills Council championship in the books.

“Not yet,” Cotugno answered if he has a career highlight. “Right now, I hope that this year we make states and that will be it.”

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