Joe Poduslenko and Malvern Prep aim for Inter-Ac three-peat

Poduslenko, who is headed for Seton Hall University, played third base in 2012.
Poduslenko, who is headed for Seton Hall University, played third base in 2012.
Posted: April 05, 2013

Joe Poduslenko knows it won't be easy for Malvern Prep to repeat last year's success in baseball. The Friars lost six starters from a squad that went 31-5 overall and was perfect in Inter-Ac League play.

"We're pretty young," the senior shortstop and leadoff hitter said. "We're going to have to find different ways to win."

Among the regulars who graduated were first baseman-pitcher Joe Ravert, now at La Salle; second baseman Drew Hayes (Navy); and centerfielder Nick Bateman (Winthrop).

"We have a lot of questions to answer, both in the field and with our pitching staff," Malvern coach Freddy Hilliard said.

Poduslenko's bat is not a concern. Last season, while earning Inquirer second-team all-Southeastern Pennsylvania honors, he hit .424 (25 for 59) with 48 runs, 30 stolen bases, and 17 RBIs. He had a .641 on-base percentage.

"He can kind of do everything," Hilliard said. "He's a great contact guy, he uses the whole field, and he can drive the ball."

Poduslenko's preparation for the 2013 campaign was derailed for a period. He was hospitalized for three weeks beginning in late December with colitis, an inflammation of the lining of the colon.

"Colitis is supposed to be a hereditary thing, but no one in my family has ever come down with it," he said. "It just kind of hit me out of the blue."

The 6-foot, 185-pounder, who has committed to Seton Hall, said he experienced many of the symptoms of the disease, including abdominal cramping, loss of energy, persistent diarrhea, and weight loss.

"I was pretty sick," he said. "Any food that I would eat would go right through me. And I had real bad stomach pains."

Poduslenko said he has regained the 32 pounds he lost and takes medication daily to reduce possible inflammation.

"I have to be smart about the foods I eat," he said. "Nothing spicy. And it's important that I get enough rest."

This week, Poduslenko and the Friars are toiling in a sun-splashed setting. They were slated to play eight or nine games in southeast Florida, with stops in Fort Pierce, Cocoa Beach, and Vero Beach.

Malvern's other key contributors are catcher-first baseman Steve Robinson, a Penn State recruit; catcher-pitcher Billy "Moose" Ford; outfielder Brian Giacchino; second baseman Matt Maul; and outfielder-pitcher Chris Butera.

While recuperating from arm miseries, Ford, a righthander who plans to play both baseball and football at West Chester, has served the two-time defending Inter-Ac champions as a designated hitter.

Poduslenko, who played third base for the Friars last year, chose Seton Hall over Delaware, St. Joseph's, William and Mary, and Wofford. Duke and Wake Forest also expressed interest.

For now, his focus is on helping Malvern Prep gain a three-peat.

"Once we get the young guys going and we come together as a team," the Glen Mills resident said, "I think we'll be a tough team for anyone to beat."

Contact Rick O'Brien

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