For Austin Solecitto, a high school pitcher from New Jersey, none of these things matter. Solecitto is deaf, diagnosed with profound hearing loss at the age of two. By the age of six, he had two implant surgeries to aid his hearing, according to MSNBC.
What some might think is his greatest weakness turns out to be his greatest strength on the mound.
“When I don’t hear anybody — the other team or the parents — I can just focus that much easier on just hitting my spots,” Solecitto said.
And he certainly has hit his spots. According to ESPN, Solecitto recorded 66 strikeouts in the 2012 season with the Indian Hill Braves. The left hander led his team to a 16-6 record, and has gained national attention as a player of the year candidate.
Solecitto will be bringing his talents to Massachusetts next year, as the 18 year old has reportedly accepted a scholarship to pitch for Boston College.
The pitcher doesn’t think his deafness should set him apart from any other athletes.
“I kind of think my deafness is overblown,” Solecitto said. “To me it’s no big deal, like, I just feel like any other person out there.”
But the lefty has higher aspirations than being like “any other person.” Solecitto said that he wants to pitch in the major leagues someday, a feat that has been accomplished before.
Curtis Pride is a former major league outfielder who played for seven different MLB teams, including the Boston Red Sox in 2000. And like Solecitto, Pride is deaf. Pride proved the disability had no effect on his athletic ability, playing 13 seasons in the majors with a .250 batting average, 20 home runs and 82 RBIs.
Although Solecitto might not be able to hear everything while on the mound, his opponents have had no problem hearing his fastball fly through at 90 mph into the catcher’s mitt for strikeouts. And that’s something that Solecitto hopes to be doing for a long time.
Photo via Facebook/Austin.Solecitto