Thursday, January 28, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Franceschi is All About Softball


Sam Franceschi is carving out a nice career as a solid hitter and a sure-handed second baseman with the East Haven softball squad. Photo courtesy of Sam Franceschi

Sam Franceschi is carving out a nice career as a solid hitter and a sure-handed second baseman with the East Haven softball squad. (Photo courtesy of Sam Franceschi )

Since she was eight years old, Sam Franceschi has lived by one motto: Eat, Sleep, Softball. Although she participated in other sports like soccer, gymnastics, and karate, Sam says that softball was the sport that resonated with her and the one she wanted to pursue as she grew up. Sam’s love for the game took her to the softball squad at East Haven High School, where she is about to enter her senior year.

Sam first stepped on the diamond with her sister Adriana. The two sisters would watch baseball games with their parents Will and Sherri and decided that they wanted to try playing a sport together. When Sam stepped into the batter’s box for the first time, she knew that softball was the sport for her.

“I immediately fell in love with it. When I was younger, I played a lot of sports for like a year and then would switch to a new one. Softball was the only one that really clicked for me,” Sam says. “I loved everything about it, and I loved playing with all my teammates. It was a wonderful experience for me.”

Sam started playing softball at The Pit when she was eight. The next year, she began competing in East Haven’s Little League. After two seasons in Little League, Sam started playing AAU softball at age 11. Sam has been a part of the AAU circuit ever since then, playing for teams such as the Connecticut Breakaways, Connecticut Hornets, Shoreline Sting, and The DiamondZone.

While Sam played for multiple AAU teams, she is one of the few athletes on the Yellowjackets’ current roster who didn’t play middle school softball in East Haven. Sam attended middle school at Benjamin Jepson Magnet School in New Haven.

East Haven Head Coach Ed Crisafi first met Sam when she started high school. Crisafi says that Sam made an impact for the Easties in her freshman year and continued to improve as a sophomore.

“I knew that Sam lived in East Haven, and I knew she was coming to East Haven High School. She worked her way in, split time at second base as a freshman, and got her feet wet at the varsity level,” says Crisafi. “As time went on, Sam ended up winning second base all to her own halfway through her sophomore season. She cuts off tons of hits at second base, and she always has a smile on her face.”

Even though she didn’t know many of her teammates as a freshman, Sam appreciates how they all made her feel right at home in the Yellowjackets’ program. Sam believes that growing close with everyone that year helped her perform better in her sophomore campaign.

Sam earned more playing time at second base, while hitting out of the No. 2 slot in the Easties’ order as a sophomore. She finished the year with a .300 batting average on 27 hits, including six doubles and four home runs, to go with 15 RBI. Sam says that she swung a more consistent and powerful bat after working with Coach Crisafi, assistant coach Jeff Crisafi, and hitting coach Brett Bradanini.

“I did a lot of winter and summer workouts with my hitting coach. He helped me a lot as a player, completely transformed my swing. If it wasn’t for him, I definitely wouldn’t have been a starting player,” Sam says of Bradanini. “I’m not a very big person. For me to have as many home runs and doubles as I did is incredible. No one would look at me and expect me to be a home run hitter. The combination of him and the East Haven coaches helped me be more confident overall.”

In addition to improving at the plate, Sam also started playing a different position as a member of the Yellowjackets. After playing shortstop while growing up, Sam was asked to move to second base in her freshman year. Coach Crisafi says that Sam made an easy transition to the position. In turn, Sam says that playing second base is something she has come to love.

“At first, I was a little upset, but I learned to love second base. That’s where I want to play. I have so much connection with my teammates at shortstop,” Sam says. “The shortstop is known as the leader of the infield. When I switched to second base, I felt like I still had that voice. I always want to let everyone know how many outs there were and where the ball was going. If you don’t have communication, you won’t know what’s going on. It’s a key part of fielding.”

Sam says that confidence is one of her best qualities on the softball field. She feels that athletes need to have confidence in order to perform the way they want to. Coach Crisafi is hoping that Sam’s confidence, coupled with her abilities at the plate and in the field, will help her earn All-Division honors, or potentially All-State, as a senior. While Sam would love to attain those accolades—and also help her team win a state championship—one of her top priorities heading into next year is to continue being a leader and make sure that the younger players on the club keep getting better.

“One of my main goals is to help the younger girls grow as players and people, to not only make them better softball players, but to help them gain confidence and grow in general,” says Sam. “I want them to have that high school experience for the rest of their lives.”

It didn’t take long for Sam to fall in love with the sport of softball. After watching baseball games with her family and then stepping on the field as a youngster, Sam has relished every opportunity to take part in the sport. Sam is excited to get back on the field for her senior season and says that, every time she gets to play softball, she realizes more and more how much the sport means to her.

“All I do is eat, sleep, and play softball year-round, constantly. I play softball in the summer, winter, fall, spring. I’m always thinking about softball, how to make myself a better player, and where my future is going with softball,” Sam says. “I look back at the past and realize how much I’ve done. I love everything that I have done, and I really hope to have a future in softball.”

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