CONCORD >> Sam Tomasetti has a story to tell about the 2016 Garnet Valley softball team.
The title is “Bundle of Sticks,” a pep talk provided by Mike Ricci, the football coach at the school.
The Jags were playing poorly to begin the season. Winless in their first three games, they were in search of team unity and success.
“And then Coach Ricci came in to talk to us. He had one stick here, and a bunch of sticks there,” Tomasetti said. “Coach Ricci said one stick can easily break, but if you put a bunch of them together, they can’t break. It was about staying together. Throughout the whole season, it stuck with us. Coach Ricci kind of turned us around. We would yell “sticks” during games and stuff. It kind of let us know that we can’t win without each other.”
Sure enough, the Jags began to win. Tomasetti was right in the middle of the team’s resurgence, hitting the ball with authority throughout the course of the season. A four-year shortstop, Tomasetti was the catalyst for a team that was overcoming growing pains.
After the slow start, the Jags won eight of their next nine games. They qualified for the District One Class AAAA playoffs for the second time in Tomasetti’s career, falling to Spring-Ford, 3-0, in the opening round.
Tomasetti ended her senior campaign with ridiculous numbers. She batted .618/.651/1.079 with a county-leading 15 doubles and five home runs. She had 35 RBIs and scored 33 runs. She struck out twice all season. Half of her hits were doubles. She was half-woman, half-amazing on the diamond…
And yet, all Tomasetti cared about was having the chance to do it all with her teammates.
“This year was by far the best,” Tomasetti said. “We had so many seniors, but we had four freshmen that came in and really helped us. I don’t even think they know how much they helped us. Diane (Torregrossa) would go 3 for 4 or 4 for 4 most games, she did awesome. Everyone gave so much to the team.”
With her stellar hitting and defense, Tomasetti stood out above the rest in Delaware County. It’s why she is the 2016 Daily Times Player of the Year.
The rest of the All-Delco softball team, selected after consultation with local coaches, includes: Agnes Irwin’s Michala Maciolek; Cardinal O’Hara’s Annemarie Banes, Mary Pat Brough and Emily Loomis; Garnet Valley’s Reva Alderman; Haverford’s Heather Lazer; Interboro’s Amber Seamen; Springfield’s Tori DePietro; Sun Valley’s Mackenzie Lewis and Upper Darby’s Sam and Lexie Witmer.
Tomasetti, Alderman, DePietro and Sam Witmer are repeat All-Delco selections. Tomasetti and DePietro make the team for the third consecutive year.
Tomasetti is the fourth Garnet Valley player to be named Player of the Year, and the first since Courtney Spina earned the honor in three consecutive seasons (2007-09).
When Tomasetti was developing her skills in the Chaos travel organization, she primarily played catcher and figured that would be her position for life. Before making a full-time commitment to softball, though, Tomasetti also played a ton of lacrosse.
“As I got older, I just kind of knew that I wanted to play softball,” she said. “My brother played baseball and I would always go to his games, so I just loved the sport. I grew up watching the game. I knew my dad would teach me through it. I also think it really helped to have the girls and the coaches surrounding me. That part of it really made me want to stick with softball.”
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) June 28, 2016
Tomasetti remembers catching for some big-name pitchers, including Lauren Quense, a Neshaminy High star who played at Fordham. By the time she reached Chaos Gold, her coaches put her in the infield. She never looked back.
“My coaches saw something in me at shortstop,” she said. “So, I just stuck with it.”
As a freshman, Tomasetti burst onto the high school scene, helping the Jaguars qualify for the District One playoffs. By the time she was a sophomore, Tomasetti had made a verbal commitment to Hofstra. It was a rare feat for a Delco softball player.
“I didn’t hear of Hofstra before. I was looking at Delaware, Pitt, Boston College. But Hofstra watched me for a couple of months,” she said. “After all that time, I felt really comfortable and I knew I wanted to go there. I knew I wasn’t making a bad decision going there. Sometimes I thought I’d regret it, but each year you learn something knew. It really got me excited.”
After her junior year, with the Jags failing to make districts for a second year in a row, Garnet Valley hired George White, who coached at Kingsway Regional in Gloucester County, N.J., and has years of organized coaching experience, to replace longtime coach Mike DiLuzio. White kept tabs on Tomasetti during the Garnet Valley basketball team’s run to the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals. Tomasetti was a senior captain and defensive standout for the hoops squad.
It didn’t take White long to realize what kind of athlete and person he was inheriting in Tomasetti.
“From Day 1, you saw the tenacity, the hustle, the work ethic and the leadership,” said White, whose daughter, Allie, set the career hits record at Neumann University last spring. “They had a nice run and basketball went into our spring tryouts. She was nervous about that, but I told her not to worry. We worked out between two or three nights a week, so when she didn’t have basketball she would come out. She didn’t really join us full-time until maybe the second week of March.”
Tomasetti didn’t need much time to get herself into softball shape. She was an extraordinary hitter all year and never fell in a slump. She played plus defense and was a perfect role model for the four freshmen on varsity.
“When it came to practices and games, everyone did their best,” Tomasetti said. “Even though we didn’t always do too great, everyone had the heart and the intensity when playing the game. That’s all you can ask from all the girls.”
White is going to miss his senior core of Tomasetti, Alderman and Sarah Wydila. All three will be difficult to replace next year, he said.
As for Tomasetti, though … well, she’s something special.
“Sam is one of a kind,” White said.