Every time Amanda Fazio ’16 runs out to the mound, she high-fives her catcher, fist bumps her assistant coach, and catches the toss of the ball from one of her infielders. After this ritual, the Chatham, N.J. native is mentally focused and prepared to strike out any batter that steps up to the plate.
Just 10 games into the softball season, the pitcher and outfielder ranks first on the team in runs scored and second in hits and batting average, only behind teammate Meghan Kovac ’18. After an impressive performance at the UNCW Invitational Feb. 26-28, Fazio now boasts a .462 batting average, collecting 18 hits and 11 runs from 39 total at bats. She also performed exceptionally well on the mound, as her ERA now stands at 1.35 with 24 strikeouts under her belt on the year. Her personal success has directly translated into team results, seen through the softball team’s record of 4-1 on the weekend, 6-4 overall.
“I think my key to my hitting success so far this season has been stepping into the box with a better hitter’s mentality. Any time you can be a tough out by putting the ball in play and on the ground as a hitter you are going to see success, and that’s been a lot of what I have been working on and what the team has been focused on,” Fazio said.
The Bison started their spring campaign with a losing record after falling narrowly to Massachusetts and East Carolina in their opening weekend at the Pirate Clash. The team was able to gain back confidence and poise during its five matches in North Carolina, and Fazio believes they are headed in the right direction.
“I think the team’s biggest challenge will be continuing to stay consistent and making adjustments offensively at the plate. We have already improved in our past weekend of playing, but we play a lot of games, and we want to stick to our plan of being aggressive and putting the ball in play on the ground,” Fazio said.
With 48 regular season games, Fazio hopes to lead the team in terms of focus and persistence all the way through May. So far, she has proved to be an essential player both offensively and defensively. The Orange and Blue hope that their future results reflect the talent and leadership of Fazio and the rest of the senior class as they head into Patriot League play later this season.
The Bison fell just short of a Patriot League title last year, and Fazio recognizes this particular team’s potential for a different result this season.
“I really do believe that this team has what it takes to bring the championship home to Bucknell. Before we can do that, though, we have a lot of games to get there, which is why our team always talks about winning the next game. If we can keep our minds focused on the goal of just winning one pitch, one inning, one game at a time, we are going to make it back to that championship game,” Fazio said.
Fazio hopes that the team’s new coaching staff will provide them with an edge on the competition. Head Coach Courtnay Foster joined the Orange and Blue this year, and the team has welcomed her insight and knowledge of the game. Specifically, Fazio notes Foster’s ability to improve the overall team mentality as well as her intensive work with the team’s pitchers.
Fazio originally chose to play softball at the University due to the school’s reputation for helping student-athletes succeed both on and off the field. The environmental studies major has mastered the responsibilities of a Bison student-athlete, as she has repeatedly earned a spot on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll and holds the program record for pitching wins (19-12) and strikeouts (164).
Fazio still holds high expectations for her senior season, as she is eager to improve on this record and leave a lasting imprint on her teammates, especially the underclassmen.
“My advice to the underclassmen has always been to take everything one pitch at a time. Everyone struggles and at some point in the season, you are going to—it is bound to happen—but you have to keep pushing forward and know that you are going to get back to where you want to be no matter what you are facing on the field or off,” Fazio said.
Throughout her career as a Bison, Fazio has proved these words true, and she hopes that this mindset will finally enable her to bring a Patriot League trophy back to Lewisburg before she departs in May.