05/27/2015 9:21 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – May 27, 2015 – Last summer concluded with Stefano Belmonte hoisting a Midwest Collegiate League championship trophy as a member of the Southland Vikings.
This year he hopes to be doing the same, only this time sporting a different color uniform.
The former Vikings third baseman will play for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen this summer.
“It’s going to be a really good experience,” he said. “The coaches are really good people, and they always have a winning team. I’m looking forward to playing on a very nice field with a lot of great fans, and also competing every day against other good teams.”
Belmonte, a Munster native, just finished his second and final year at South Suburban College. He has two years of collegiate eligibility remaining after redshirting as a freshman at Purdue in 2013.
The talented infielder accumulated a .328 batting average, belted four home runs and racked up 30 RBIs while appearing in 34 games for the league-champion Vikings last summer. One of his home runs came on July 4 at Oil City Stadium, when he led off the fourth by launching a solo shot in an eventual 7-3 Southland win.
“Playing last year and winning the championship and being in the lineup every day gave me that experience,” Belmonte said. “I know how it is, I know what we have to do and I know how it can be achieved.”
This spring at South Suburban, Belmonte batted .354 with two home runs and 48 RBIs. He helped the Bulldogs to a 33-21 record and a regional championship.
“I was able to see a lot of good pitching,” Belmonte said. “I got a lot better personally; I got faster and stronger. I feel like I improved a lot as a player. I’m glad that I played two years at South Suburban.”
Belmonte also had a successful prep career at St. Rita, where he was a four-year letter-winner for coach Mike Zunica. He helped St. Rita reach state his freshman and sophomore years and contributed to St. Rita winning the 2009 summer state title. Belmonte was a three-time all-area third baseman, batting .400 or better in each of those seasons.
“The two championships I played in at St. Rita were huge for my life,” Belmonte said. “That was very big for me, as a young kid getting to that level in the tournament was exciting.”
When he takes the field for the Oilmen on Opening Day, Belmonte will be surrounded by several familiar faces. Fellow Bulldogs Brian Seymour (Lansing, Ill.) and Jeremy Wright (Munster, Ind. / Andrean) join him on the team’s roster.
“I want to work on my speed, my fielding and my ability to get the ball,” Belmonte said. “I want to produce a lot of RBIs and home runs. I want to up my home run numbers from last year.”