SOUTHINGTON — Come springtime, Southington baseball will feature a pair of Division I players on the diamond.
Longtime friends Dante D’Amore and Devan Bade made their choices official in a recent signing ceremony at Southington High School.
D’Amore will play at Sacred Heart University. Bade is heading to Binghamton University in New York.
So far, both have played limited innings for the Blue Knights because their junior season was lost to the pandemic.
“The coaches came out to watch them play as freshmen and sophomores, and continued to stay in touch with them,” Southington head coach Charlie Lembo said. “It’s a big accomplishment for both of them.
“The last time I saw them here they were sophomores,” Lembo added. “I thought they were going to have big junior years for us. But I want to congratulate them for all of the hard work they put in. The journey goes on from here. We look forward to both having awesome senior years.”
D’Amore made the Southington tournament roster as a sophomore. By the postseason, he was starting at third base in the Class LL semifinals and finals.
D’Amore, who has also pitched for Southington, was recruited as a third baseman.
At Sacred Heart, D’Amore will major in Finance and play for head coach Nick Restaino. Wallingford native T.K. Kiernan is one of the assistant coaches. Former Southington catcher Josh Panarella is on the roster.
“This was a lifelong goal of mine,” D’Amore said upon signing with Sacred Heart. “To finally accomplish that is a great feeling, especially to do it with Devan. We’ve been friends since we were little kids. It’s awesome to do that today with him.”
Both D’Amore and Bade play summer ball for Taconic Rangers in Fishkill, N.Y. This past summer, they played 60 games and roomed together. D’Amore’s grandfather was on the coaching staff.
“I was great to have a great coaching this summer, and Coach Lembo helped as well,” said D’Amore, the son of Tony and Maria D’Amore. “We weren’t able to play a high school season last year, but I was able to send out a lot of video footage of me pitching and hitting. That was helpful for me being recruited.
“A lot of kids don’t get to play at the next level. I’m excited to get that opportunity.”
D’Amore batted cleanup in the summer lineup. Bade, the shortstop, typically hit No. 2.
Bade describes himself as a hard worker and a leader.
“To play shortstop, you have to be a leader for the teammates around you,” said the son of Chris and Gwen Bade. “I was elected as captain for my senior year and I’m trying to take those leadership skills to help my team win this season.”
Bade is a contact hitter with some power. Once he’s on the bases, he looks to utilize his speed to steal bases.
Defensively, Bade’s a got a good arm. His throws from shortstop have been clocked up to 88 miles an hour.
He will study Engineering at Binghamton and play for coach Tim Sinicki, who has been with the Bearcats for 28 seasons.
“The day I got the call from Binghamton that I’m going there was one of the greatest days, but to make it official is a great day,” Bade said during the signing ceremony. “I hope we have a (2020) season. I think we should. If it doesn’t happen this year, I’m excited I have another four years to play for a very competitive Division I baseball team.”