Committed to her craft
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
You could play sports your entire life, and wear many jersey’s throughout your career. But, there is something different when you are able to put on the jersey of your home country.
The chance to represent your country is something that a lot of athletes don’t get a chance to do. But, when they finally get to put the Red, White and Blue on, and have that scripted USA across the chest, there is a different feeling.
For Stefania Abruscato she was able to live out a dream that so many of us just get to imagine. She was able to put on that USA jersey, and represent her country while also playing the sport that she loves - softball.
“I was so honored to be chosen to play for team USA. I take pride in my country and I’m happy to represent it doing what I love,” stated Abruscato. “I was so grateful for this opportunity and proud of myself, because this is something that I have been working toward. I was super excited and can’t wait to play alongside my teammates.”
To say that last couple of years has been a whirlwind for Abruscato is an understatement. Besides donning the USA colors, she also committed to the University of Missouri early on in the process.
Being able to commit early has allowed Abruscato to be able to focus on her game, and not so much on where she is going to spend her next four years. It has allowed her to relax and focus on what she needs to do to get ready to play college softball at the highest level in the SEC.
“Knowing how the recruiting process is now, I’m relieved that I had made the decision so early,” stated Abruscato. “Watching my teammates go through the recruitment process now, I am glad that I got this decision out-of-the-way so early so I could focus on myself and improve my skills during the past few years.”
Improving her skills means that Abruscato still goes to some camps even though she has already made her commitment. Being committed doesn’t mean Abruscato still cant hone her skills and work on different aspects of her game.
Abruscato wanted to make sure she still put in the hard work everyday to get better. She never wanted to rest on the fact that she already had a college commitment. The SEC is no joke, and every team in the league has the best players from the country playing for them.
“Even though I was committed at a very young age, I never thought that that meant it was time to stop trying. I still went to camps because I knew there was room for improvement and always strive to be better. I also really value the feedback from my coaches at Mizzou and my coaches on Jersey Intensity,” stated Abruscato. “Since I committed early I only went to Mizzou and Intensity camps. The level of instruction and professionalism of both was always something I looked forward to. Working with both coaching staffs, players, and alumni was an awesome learning experience.”
Abruscato has one of the toughest jobs on the team being a catcher. At times, her body takes a beating. That means she needs to take care of her body as much as she can during the season, but also the offseason as well.
Sometimes it’s not that easy, especially when you are a three-sport athlete like Abruscato is. Softball is her main gig, but she also played soccer and hoops throughout the year. Being able to play as many sports as she does has helped her overall softball game.
Abruscato also makes sure she hits the weight room to help build herself up so when softball season does come up she is ready for the day-to-day pounding.
“As a catcher, I know it’s important to always stretch and ice. During the off-season i lift to increase my strength,” stated Abruscato. “On top of softball, I play varsity basketball and soccer. Soccer helps me with cardio and basketball helps with my agility. Both of these components contribute to my performance on the softball field.”
On the field Abruscato can absolute rake. She hit a torrid .667 last season, and feels like she can improve on those numbers this year. But, it’s not just about improving her numbers.
Abruscato wants to lead her team to a championship. The leadership qualities Abruscato showcases comes out in her because at the end of the day it’s about winning. The numbers are good, and she wants to improve on those, but at the end of the day she wants a title.
“I would always love to improve that number, as well as increase my home run record because I was not satisfied with mine last season,” stated Abruscato. “I would also love to lead my team to win a county championship.”
Being a catcher is not easy. Besides taking a beating behind the platte, a catcher is asked to provide some offense and take care of the pitching staff. Taking care of the pitching staff is probably the most important part of the job.
Being able to build a relationship with the staff will only help the team out in the long run. Abruscato makes sir to build these relationships right as the season is ready to get underway.
“Relationships are very important whenever you’re on a team. Getting together with my pitching staff off of the field is very beneficial in building that relationship and trust with one another. We usually talk about previous games and our game plan going forward in the season,” stated Abruscato. “The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is so important on the field. I try to create this connection as soon as possible going into the season. I do this by talking about the game both on and off the field, as well as picking her up in tough situations and being the first teammate to have her back.”