VIRGINIA — Chris Vito landed two new recruits Wednesday for his 2021-22 Norsemen baseball team — and the head coach couldn’t be happier.
Having two area high school players — Virginia’s Cole Schaefer and Daniel Moore — on the roster is just a bonus, he added.
“I’m very excited about both of them. I always like to get the local kids when I can.’’
Vito believes both can benefit his Mesabi Range College baseball team.
The coach said Schaefer is a very athletic outfielder, while Moore can help the Norse at third base and also pitches.
The Norsemen skipper was a big attraction for Moore, as was extending his career at the next level. “Any way possible to play more baseball’’ was something that brought a smile to his face, too.
Schaefer felt the same way.
“Chris Vito, he’s a good guy and he’s been talking to me since I was a sophomore.’’
Another factor attracting Schaefer to MRC was that “it’s local, very local.’’
“They’re the type of kids we want to bring into our program,’’ Vito said, because “they love baseball.’’
Both Schaefer and Moore play American Legion baseball and will be seniors on the Virginia High School team in the spring.
The Blue Devil seniors are both looking forward to playing at the next level.
“It will be a lot different,’’ Moore said, with college ball being more serious than high school ball. “I think the competition will be a lot tougher.’’
“I expect good competition,’’ said Schaefer, who believes that will make him play better and raise his skill level.
Moore plans to fine tune his game in his senior year before he heads to Mesabi. He’s already working hard and believes he, Schaefer and the Blue Devils will do well this spring. The team boasts many seniors and the chemistry is good, he said.
“I’d like to make it deep into the playoffs,’’ Moore told the Mesabi Tribune.
For Schaefer, his final high school season means working on his batting and making contact on more pitches. Arm strength and accuracy are also skills he wants to improve before he hits the field for the Norse.
“I just have to keep progressing.’’
Schaefer and Moore feel like they know their college head coach already.
Moore said Vito regularly attends the Virginia games and is “pretty close to my family.’’ He has always been looking to play at the next level and Mesabi Range College was perfect because it was so close. In addition, “Vito is a great guy.’’
At the ballpark, Vito talks to the boys between innings and after about what they did well and what they could improve on, Schaefer said. “A college coach telling you those things means a lot.’’
As far as signing early, Schaefer said the timing was right. “Right now I think going JUCO first is the right decision for me as a ball player. JUCO is obviously a good stepping stone for any athlete.’’
For Vito, this was the “earliest in my five years here that we’ve signed a kid.’’
The coach said it will be good for the college and the student athletes.
“They’ve made their decisions so now they can just focus on their senior years.’’
Academically, Moore is undecided on what his major will be, while Schaefer plans to enter the college law enforcement and criminology program.