Joe Champi leads the Colonels in his senior year

#26 Joe Champi throws to first base.

Purvit Patel

#26 Joe Champi throws to first base.

If anyone owes their high school friends a thank you, its Joe Champi. The 6’1” slugger from Dupont, PA did not play varsity baseball until his senior year of high school, and it took a little bit of convincing from his friends. “I was a typical lazy high school kid, I did not want to commit to the whole high school aspect of baseball,” said Champi talking about his decision to not play varsity baseball until his senior year. His friends knew how good he was at baseball growing up and kept encouraging him to come out for the team his senior season. “It was a very last second decision to do so, and well at this point I am really happy I did,” said Champi.

Coming out of Pittston Area, Champi was recruited by Wilkes, Misericordia and Lackawanna to play baseball. At the time, Wilkes was coached by Matt Holland, who convinced Champi to play for the Colonels.

During his freshman season, Champi batted .360 with five homers and 24 runs batted in. He was second on the team in these categories and his performance was good enough for him to be named Second Team All-Mac.

When his freshman season was done, so was Matt Holland’s time at Wilkes University. Holland went on to accept a position at Cal State Northridge, a Division 1 baseball school that competes in the Big West baseball conference. Champi was offered to go out there with his former head coach, and after considering the offer he declined it choosing to stay at Wilkes. His teammates and former hitting coach Nate Ramsey getting the head coach position were a big reason Champi chose to stay.

The following year Champi improved on those numbers. He led the team with a .404 batting average homering six times and batting in 43 runs. These numbers helped him on his way to being named First Team All-MAC and Third Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region. His .404 batting average was tied for third in the MAC Freedom Conference, behind current Wilkes Graduate Assistant Joe Grato who at the time was playing for Eastern University. This season Grato will be in the Colonels dugout helping out with the hitters. One of the hitters he will be helping is Champi.

“He works his tail off day in and day out, always in the green room getting extra hitting done on his own,” said Grato when talking about Champi’s work ethic. “He strives to be the best and is never satisfied always wanting to get better,” said Grato.

The former lazy high school kid is now motivated to take his talents to the next level. This past fall Champi and a few teammates got invited to a Phillies scouting workout down in Philadelphia. Champi is aware that in order for more opportunities like this to come about, he needs to keep working hard. So far this year through 14 games played, Champi is batting .471 with one homer and 16 runs batted in. The team however as of March 29th is 5-10, but Champi along with his teammates are not too worried about that. “It is early in the season and everyone is trying to get going,” said Champi. The Colonels have 24 games remaining this season and Champi thinks the team is just finding their stride now “It’s a good time to find our stride as we have only played three conference games, as the snow really didn’t help us out.”

Champi will play a big part in the Colonels success this season, looking to lead the Colonels to their first playoff appearance since 2009. It is safe to say a last second decision to play baseball his senior year is definitely one Champi does not regret.