Stephen Notaro named SOCON player of the week

Baseball player Stephen Notaro, the Westlake California native, came to Cullowhee and WCU in 2007 as a star high school player, and since he has proven himself on the baseball diamond and in the classroom.

“Western Carolina senior Stephen Notaro was today named the Southern Conference’s Player of the Week by the conference office for games played April 18-24,” said Daniel Hooker, of WCU’s Media Relations department.

Chris Masters, A WCU baseball alumni who garnered the honors two years ago said, “It means a lot to be recognized by the conference for your achievements. Stephen is definitely deserving of the honor. He is a great two-strike hitter, has power and plate discipline.”

Notaro is pleased with the honor. “It’s a big honor. If you look at all the players who have been on it, it’s all the top players in the league. It’s cool to be on that list,” said Notaro.

Notaro isn’t purely an offensive player, he has proven to be just as effective behind the plate.

“Stephen is a great catcher. He really adapts well to different pitchers and he really catches on to what pitchers need to do to be successful,” said Masters, now with the Atlanta Braves farm system, a group of minor league professional baseball teams.

The honor is the second for a Catamount player this season, joining Ross Heffley who picked up the accolade in week one. For Notaro, the weekly award is the second of his career as he also picked up plaudits as a junior during the 2009 season.

“He has a lot of experience and we have worked together for a while, there is a high level of comfort with him behind the plate.” said Matt Benedict, a catamount pitcher.

Notaro led the Catamounts with a .750 batting average on the week (9-for-12) with a team-best nine base hits including two doubles and his second home run of the season. The senior from Westlake, Calif., drove in 10 runs in the three games, amassing a 1.167 slugging percentage with a .706 on-base percentage as WCU took two against Wofford. Notaro had three multi-hit games including a career-best 5-for-5 effort on Sunday to go along with six runs batted in and four runs scored. He also recorded two sacrifice flies to plate runs.

Notaro has raised his seasonal batting average to .395, currently second on the team and third in the SOCON behind league-leader, Heffley (.425). He has nine doubles on the season to rank fourth on the squad while his 29 runs batted in put him third for WCU.