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Rivertowns Sports

Hastings’ Ace Pitcher Billy Murnighan Takes His Arm to California

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May 21, 2024

By Tom Pedulla–

All athletes emphasize the importance of getting into the zone by eliminating crowd noise and whatever else might create a distraction. That goal is, of course, admirable. The ability to get to that special place is rare.

Not for Hastings High School senior Billy Murnighan. The ace right-hander used his power of concentration to complete a senior season he will never forget. He compiled a 6-1 regular season record with a 1.83 ERA to go with 53 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings to earn League Pitcher of the Year honors.

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Murnighan credits the mental aspect at least as much as his physical ability in discussing his success. “I zone out everything going on around me and I fully lock in on the catcher, the batter and the ball,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”

When Murnighan wasn’t pitching, he was sparking the Yellow Jackets either with his hitting or by wreaking havoc on the basepaths. He rebounded from a disappointing junior season at the plate by batting .400, an improvement he credits to increased strength. “I worked out a lot in the off-season,” he said. “That helped me muscle some balls into play.”

His coach, Dom Cecere, described him as being “as fast as a jaguar.” Murnighan was able to use that speed to leg out infield hits. Once aboard, he disrupted opposing pitchers and fielders with the threat that he might attempt to steal at any time. He closed the regular season with 25 stolen bases, three shy of the school record he established as a sophomore.

Murnighan’s many talents helped Hastings finish the regular season with a 15-5 record and ultimately reach the Section 1 Class A quarterfinals. He also excelled in basketball during his high school career.

“He’s the type of kid who would never take himself out of any situation. He’s going to give you exactly what he’s got every single time he steps on the court or enters a field,” said Cecere. “He’s just a great kid. Opposing coaches and players said they have great respect for the way he carries himself and competes.”

Those opponents showed that by selecting him as the top pitcher in a league that includes Albertus Magnus, Bronxville, Dobbs Ferry and Irvington.  “It means a lot,” said Murnighan. “I put in a lot of work. There are a bunch of great pitchers in the league. I’m very grateful to my coaches and the entire team. They picked me up the entire year.”

The Yellow Jackets built momentum as the season progressed. Leadoff man Luke Ciszewski, a senior co-captain, possessed a knack for getting on base. Few players could match him when it came to his keen eye at the plate, leading to many walks. Like Murnighan, Ciszewski was a threat to steal whenever he got aboard, which was often. Cecere described third-place hitter Kieran McGrath as “our best pure hitter.” The great news for Yellow Jackets fans is that McGrath will return for his senior season.

Murnighan looks forward to attending the University of California at Santa Barbara, which has a high-powered baseball program. He said he may attempt to make the team as a walk-on. Although he is undecided about his major, he expects it to involve economics. “I’m super excited to get out to California,” said Murnighan said, an avid surfer who hears the Pacific Ocean calling his name.

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