Lewisburg, Pa. - Mike Castellani, the former Bison left-handed pitcher from Avon, Connecticut, signed a professional contract on Thursday with an Independent League team known as the Washington Wild Things. He is a 2017 graduate of Bucknell, where he had a successful four-year career, and is currently playing in the California Winter League.

Over the course of four years with the Bison, Castellani was 15-6, and he recorded an impressive 3.64 earned-run average. The 15 wins were good enough for seventh all-time at Bucknell, while his ERA ranked 11th in the school’s history.

Castellani first entered Bucknell back in 2014, as a reliever, and had quite the first season. He tossed 20.2 consecutive scoreless innings over 11 appearances from March 1-Apr.12, to become one of the team’s top relievers. He would continue his play the following season as a sophomore, and showed his best stuff when it mattered most. In Patriot League play, Castellani went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 28.2 innings of relief, and allowed just 25 hits out of the bullpen that year.

Fast forward to his final season at Bucknell, and the former reliever gained a full season as a starter and took advantage of it. In just his second season as a full-time starter, Castellani was able to lead the Bison to the Patriot League Championship series, after having a stellar performance against Navy in the semifinal series finale. In his outing, the southpaw recorded his third complete game shutout of the year to lead the Bison to a 5-0 win over Navy, and helped them sweep their rival to advance to the PL Championship series. He went nine innings and surrendered three hits in what was a dominating performance.

Castellani then pitched in the final game of the PL Championship series. After Bucknell fell in its first game, 4-3, to Holy Cross, Castellani started in game two and had another solid outing. Over 6.1 innings, he struck out a career-best nine hitters, but the Bison eventually were eliminated in extra innings. Castellani finished his career as the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week twice, as well as Bison Athlete of the Week. He was a PL Academic Honor Roll Student.

The Washington Wild Things season opener is still a few months away with their first game scheduled for May 11, against the Evansville Otters. The Otters finished second in the West Division last season at 52-44, trailing only the Florence Freedom (61-35).  This season the Wild Things will be managed by Gregg Langbehn, who is entering his third season as coach of the team. He played for eight years in the minor leagues, making it as far as Triple-A.

Langbehn has 99 wins and 92 loses through his first two years as a coach for the Wild Things. Last year they finished second in their division behind the Schaumburg Boomers (66-30) and advanced to the Frontier League Divisional Series, but faced a tough opponent in the Florence Freedom. Washington eventually fell to the freedom and its season ended. The team was originally founded in 2001 and will be entering its 17th season as a franchise during this upcoming season. Langbehn will be entering his 14th season as a manager, having coached in the minors since 2004.