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Team player Joe Storno heads for bright career

By Nathan Fox Daily Planet Correspondent
Tuesday April 16, 2002

There is, as they say, no I in team. Neither is there an I in workhorse – and you can dig all you want but you’ll be hard pressed to find an I in Joe Storno. 

Storno, a senior southpaw for the St. Mary’s Panthers, is the last man standing on a Panther pitching staff that has seen two of its top three starters suffer season-ending shoulder injuries. The remainder of the staff can generously be described as “young” and/or “inexperienced” (freshman Scott Tully was called up Friday from the junior varsity to start against St. Patrick) and head coach Andy Shimabukuro, laughing, finds a more frank description for his makeshift staff: “shaky.” 

But where there should be a huge gap in the middle of the St. Mary’s rotation, you will now find the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Storno – who is suddenly the staff ace, bordering on one-man show - although you won’t hear Storno say that. 

“He’s kind of a quiet, laid-back kid,” Shimabukuro says, “and he’s not worried about his stats. He’s worried about winning.” 

Pitching every other game this season for St. Mary’s, usually going the full seven innings and throwing well over 100 pitches, Storno has become a rock amidst Shimabukuro’s unsteady sea of young arms. On Wednesday against then first-place Salesian, Storno threw a complete game three-hitter, walking none and striking out eight. Shimabukuro described Storno as being in “complete control” as he wrapped up his gem in only 88 pitches for a 4-2 victory that put the Panthers in control of the BSAL race. 

Asked about his performance so far this season, Storno is given a chance to toot his own horn - and here is how the young athlete chooses to answer: 

“Well, I’m not sure,” says Storno. “But the team is 3 and 0 in league.” 

Right. But we already knew that much. St. Mary’s is a perennial contender in the North Coast Section, cruising into the playoffs each of Storno’s first three years there, and this year has jumped out to an early lead in the BSAL. The question here is not about the team - it is about Joe Storno. How are you playing this year, personally? What is your record, for example? Your earned run average? 

“I don’t know,” says Storno, flatly. “I usually go the distance in our games though.” 

These are refreshing answers in a time when many young athletes can recite every personal stat in the book except for their team’s win-loss record. For an account of Storno’s personal achievements one must look elsewhere; Shimabukuro, for one, is effusive in his praise. 

“He’s the ace of our staff, and the only reliable pitcher we have right now,” Shimabukuro says. “He’s primarily responsible for our undefeated start in league.” 

In his last three outings Storno has pitched 21 innings, striking out 16, with a 2.57 earned run average. He has given up only 18 hits and six walks over that stretch.. 

“I know that every seventh day he’s going to take the ball and go with it,” says Shimabukuro, “and that’s a great feeling.” 

On days that he’s not pitching, Storno, the workhorse, doesn’t rest – he starts at first base for the Panthers. Storno is batting .280, with 10 RBIs and 13 runs scored. 

Shimabukuro attributes Storno’s durability to his off-season dedication to conditioning, describing Storno as a “team leader.” 

“A lot of the guys, the next day after they pitch they’re a little sore. He just goes through practice like he didn’t even pitch,” Shimabukuro says. “I think he really worked hard in the off-season - he was one of the guys that was there every day - and I think that will carry him through the end of the season.” 

Next year Storno will be a freshman at Florida State, home of one of the best baseball programs in the country. Some would say that Storno is stretching his skills a bit too far when he says that he intends to try to walk on there as a pitcher, but Storno’s decision to attend Florida State is based on their excellent Criminal Justice program, not on their baseball program. His favorite current class at St. Mary’s is Constitutional Law, and he talks of someday becoming an investigator with the FBI or DEA. 

As for Storno’s future on the mound, time will tell. Baseball is a game that rewards the consistent. Storno has stayed the distance several times this year – and there is no reason to believe that he’ll stop now.