Hampshire’s Anthony Karbowski was thrilled to finish the last few weeks of his freshman season with the varsity baseball team.
That meant he played a handful of games with his brother Matthew, who started at shortstop and also pitched for the Whip-Purs.
It also allowed Karbowski, a budding ace pitcher and first baseman, to get a little taste of baseball at that level.
“That was truly exciting to play with my brother,” Karbowski said. “The main thing I wanted to do was play with my brother. That helped me a lot. It fired me up to get to the varsity level where I have to work, it’s not going to be easy.
“I really had to work on my skills, get bigger and get stronger. Being at the varsity level is difficult, but it’s fun. I wouldn’t change it.”
Whips coach Frank Simoncelli thinks Karbowski, who committed to Louisville this winter, can make a significant impact this spring as a pitcher, first baseman and hitter.
Karbowski is a left-handed pitcher and right-handed hitter. Louisville’s coaches said they were recruiting him possibly as a two-way player, although Karbowski admits he is more recognized for his efforts on the mound.
“I definitely see him as a huge part of what we’re trying to do,” Simoncelli said. “He’s a lefty arm, so right off the bat he stands out. He throws hard, between 85 and 87 consistently. He’s around the zone and attacks.
“He has a little different release, a little higher, three-quarters almost. He kind of hides it a little bit, so it looks like it’s coming at you a little harder than that. He hides it pretty well.”
In his first start, Karbowski threw three innings, allowed one hit and two runs while striking out for in a win over Larkin. As a hitter, he is 1 for 4 with one RBI.
Karbowski (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) was noticed by Louisville during his freshman year of high school when he started playing with the Cangelosi Sparks travel team out of Lockport.
Louisville coach Dan McDonnell and his staff communicated with Simoncelli during Karbowski’s freshman season. When Karbowski’s performance at a Prep Baseball Report Showcase hit Twitter, the Cardinals became even more interested.
“This offseason my fastball jumped from 80 to high 80s,” Karbowski said. “They knew me, but my numbers had really jumped up. They contacted coach Simoncelli, and we talked for a month. I went down there for a camp and I really enjoyed the coaching staff there, all the coaches, loved the campus, and after about a month I committed.”
Simoncelli has Karbowski slated to start Thursday against St. Charles North, which should be a good early-season test.
“He’s going to get the ball every week,” Simoncelli said. “I’m going to get him in some tough games and challenge him. When he’s on the mound, we fell pretty good. I think he’s going to have a great season on the mound.”
Karbowski has been hitting No. 6 in the lineup behind Evan Spenk, Austin Leonard and Dominick Kooistra, who have been the Whips’ 3-4-5 hitters most of the time for the previous two seasons.
“We haven’t seen him hit a lot in game action yet, but his exit velo [in cage workouts] was 93,” Simoncelli said. “He’s extremely smooth with the mitt at first base. He picks everything. He’s pretty tall. His defense is very high level.”
Karbowski likes both playing a position and pitching.
“I would definitely say my pitching is superior right now, but my hitting and defense get overlooked because people mainly know me as a pitcher,” he said. “I’ve been a two-way player my entire life. My bat is good. I’m an elite defender.
“College-wise I might be more of a pitcher. I’m more passionate about pitching, but I still love playing the field and hitting. Whatever doors open up, I’ll take my opportunities. I like playing both sides of the field.”
Karbowski works with Sparks pitching coaches, along with Simoncelli at school, and has the benefit of a former NCAA Division I pitcher right in his house: his father, Walter.
“He’s definitely somebody I look up to,” Karbowski said.
Karbowski said Matthew, an All-Fox Valley Conference player last year, also is a role model for him for helping him every step along the way. They speak or text almost daily.
“He’s helped me a lot ever since I was a child. He helped me find a passion and love for the sport,” Karbowski said. “Recently, he helped me with lifting and getting bigger and overall advancing. He’s always helped me on the field and off the field mentally to prepare for each game. I’m just blessed to have him as an older brother.”