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Experienced Buccilli having strong year for Franklin Regional softball

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Murrysville Star
Franklin Regional shortstop Angela Buccilli prepares to field the ball during a game against Penn Hills on April 25, 2014, at Franklin Regional High School.

Franklin Regional softball coach Jim Armstrong remembers the first time he saw Angela Buccilli, at a softball clinic when she was about 6 years old.

He said he saw big things for her even back then.

“She played for the Pittsburgh Power, and she used to wear this red suit,” Armstrong said. “She was always running around, flying around.

“You could see it then,” he said. “She just has it, and she loves playing.”

About 10 years later, Buccilli is living up even to Armstrong's high expectations. The junior is batting over .400 and anchors Franklin Regional's defense at shortstop.

“I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think she's the best shortstop in our section,” Armstrong said. “She's got a tremendous arm, (and) she makes plays. When we played Norwin (in March), she made a play against Maddy Miller, who hit a rocket up the middle and Ang laid out and caught it. It was a highlight play, and she usually does one a game.”

Buccilli comes from a family that has a strong baseball and softball background. Her father played baseball in college, as did both of her brothers, and her parents owned batting cages. Because of that, she was surrounded by softball throughout her childhood.

“When I was 3 years old, up until I was about 12, I was hitting in the cages pretty much every day of the week,” she said. “That definitely helps. I have a lot of influence of that in my life. It's always been there, (and) it's kind of a natural thing. It's kind of crazy to think about, but my life is so influenced by that. It's pretty good.”

Even now, Buccilli's life is dominated by softball. She plays the sport year-round, competing both for Franklin Regional and the Mt. Pleasant-based YMCA Synergy.

“In my younger years, I saw the commitment level that goes into this,” she said. “You have practices, tournaments, games, and then you have your individual practices where you'll go to the field and you'll hit some ground balls or you'll go to the track and run sprints. It's definitely a year-round job.

“I make sacrifices, but I think it's for the better because this is my life and I love what I do.”

Buccilli's vast softball experience is a benefit on a Franklin Regional roster dominated by underclassmen. Armstrong counts Buccilli, a three-year starter, and senior Alexa Fike as his two most important leaders.

“It definitely helps that I've been around longer because I can pass on knowledge that I've gained over the years (about) what not to do,” Buccilli said. “It also helps that I've played multiple positions in my life, so I can help them out if they have any questions.”

At just 5 feet tall, Buccilli is often one of the smallest players on the field and said she can get underestimated at times. But she's used that to her advantage, earning a scholarship to play softball at Division I Coastal Carolina — where her older brother, Alex, played.

“When I go on the field, people are like, ‘OK, this is some short girl,'” she said. “But I kind of like it because then you get to prove people wrong, and then everything you do is magnified.”

Buccilli is now doing her best to help the Franklin Regional (2-10, 1-8 Section 1-AAAA) the rest of the season. The Panthers won their first two games of the season last week, beating Connellsville, 9-5, and Penn Hills, 14-4.

“It definitely hurts to lose,” Buccilli said. “It's not very good on morale, but mostly we just try to stay positive, learn from our mistakes and hopefully not make them in our next game. We're kind of just rebuilding (and) will keep doing what we're doing and hopefully be doing better.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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