Degabriele dominates the diamond

Second baseman Erika Degabriele named Fastpitch Association’s Athlete of the Week

Erika Degabriele makes a catch at second base.
Credit: 
Shawn Trudeau

Whether she’s up to bat or out at second base, Queen’s Fastpitch player Erika Degrabriele is a force to be reckoned with this season. 

Degrabriele, Kin ’23, was named Athlete of the Week by the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association (OIWFA) after her performances catalyzed four straight wins for the Gaels during their second set of matchups on Sept. 25 and 26.

“It was a great weekend. The other teams definitely gave us a battle, which was expected, but we were able to get a win under our belt,” Degabriele said in an interview with  The Journal.

In those four matches against Carleton and X University, Degabriele recorded eight assists after 10 total chances on the ball while on second base. She also held a perfect fielding percentage.

When she stepped up to the plate, Degabriele wasn’t struck out once either. In total, she had seven hits—one single, four doubles, and a triple—scored six runs, stole two bases, and finished with seven Runs Batted in.

Her contact average is currently sitting at 1.000—meaning she has put the ball in play during all plate appearances—and her batting average sits just above 0.500, meaning half of all her swings result in genuine hits. 

The Journal sat down with Degrabiele to discuss her journey coming to Queen’s and learn about her hopes for the rest of the fastpitch season.

A Brampton native, fastpitch has always been Degabriele’s sport. At just three years old, she was already playing T-Ball. Five years later, at age eight, she began playing rep fastpitch.

Her career spans several clubs, including the Brampton Blazers, Barrie Storm, and Oakville Angels. When she came to Queen’s last year, she didn’t miss out on her chance to become a Gael.

When asked about what motivated her to try out for fastpitch here at Queen’s, Degabriele credited “the passion and the love for the sport.”

“The dynamic of the team is amazing.”

Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, Degabriele couldn’t train on the diamond this past summer, so getting back into a competitive mindset for this season required some patience.

“A little bit of time in the gym, warming up your body slowly, and just being confident that you’ll get there eventually,” she said. “You just have to take it step by step and [not] really rush [it].”

Humble as ever, Degabriele said the greatest part about fastpitch is feeling the support of her thirteen teammates on the field and supporting them in return.

“If someone makes a mistake, you know you have the coaching staff and 13 girls behind you ready to pick it up, whether it’s through their bats or through another play,” she said.

“It’s a really low-stress situation when you know that you have people behind you that are there for the same reason and are just as passionate as you are.”

Meanwhile, Degabriele and the Gaels keep tallying up wins. They’ve won seven of their first nine games and will be chasing down more victories in the latter half of the season.

“As a team, we really want to go undefeated for the rest of the round robin,” she said.

“Our goal is to definitely get some wins, and hopefully qualify for one of the top two spots to move on to the next round.”

That next round would be the OWIFA playoffs, where the Gaels would have a chance at redeeming themselves after failing to medal in 2019.

From enjoying the long weekend bus rides to being a resolute force on the diamond, fastpitch has quickly become an outlet for Degabriele—outside of schoolwork—that’s defining her time at Queen’s.

“You truly have a moment of just, ‘okay I’m here to not only take a break, but to play the sport that we all love,’” she said.

“It keeps me going.”

 

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