Plum’s Fischetti to play college softball at Northwest Florida State
Friday, November 9, 2018 | 6:45 PM
For as long as she can remember, Gabby Fischetti has wanted to go south to play softball in college.
With her recent decision to sign on with Northwest Florida State, a Division I program in the National Junior College Athletic Association, she is getting that chance.
Fischetti, a senior all-section catcher with the Plum softball team, made her decision final Nov. 2, and she said she’s excited to have everything set for her time after high school.
“It feels so awesome to make this dream come true,” Fischetti said. “I’m not going to have any family there, so it’s kind of like I am starting over when I go down there. It will teach me how to be more independent and be on my own.
The connection with Northwest Florida State began at a travel tournament in Ohio. A coach from an opposing team took notice of Fischetti’s offensive and defensive talent and struck up a conversation about college.
“I told him that I wanted to go down south, but I kind of messed up with my grades,” Fischetti said. “He asked me if I ever thought about a junior college. He put me in touch with Northwest Florida’s head coach (Jack Byerley). I emailed him, and he got back to me quickly, and it just shot off from there.”
Fischetti said that with being in Florida, the opportunity is there to play softball year-round.
“The pace of the game is much faster,” she said. “I am excited and ready for that challenge.”
Northwest Florida State, located in the panhandle of the state halfway between Panama City and Pensacola, recently scrimmaged 2018 NCAA Division I champion Florida State and the Chinese National Team. The team also had fall scrimmages against Division I Auburn and South Alabama.
“It feels surreal right now that I will have the chance to be on the same field and play against some of the best players in the country,” Fischetti said. “But next summer and starting next fall, the reality of it will hit me. That will be a lot of fun. I have a goal to play Division I softball, and these games will allow me to see how I match up with them.”
Northwest Florida State has produced several players who have made their mark on some of the leading Division I programs in the country. Catcher Hannah Sparks played at Northwest Florida State in 2015 and 2016 before transferring to Oklahoma.
The Sooners, with Sparks in the fold, captured the 2017 national championship and also qualified for the 2018 College World Series.
“It’s exciting to think that if I work hard and do what I need to do, that could be me,” said Fischetti, who plans to study sports business management with hopes of one day becoming an athletic director or a college coach.
Fischetti earned Section 1-5A all-star honors in 2018 as she joined teammate Mackenzie Lake, a junior infielder, on the first team.
Lake has given a verbal commitment to play softball in college at Division I St. Francis (Pa.).
Plum tied Greensburg Salem for fifth place in Section 1 last spring, one game out of a WPIAL playoff spot.
“I am very excited for Gabby,” said John Forsythe, a Plum varsity softball assistant last spring and also a coach for Fischetti’s Pittsburgh Predators Gold travel team.
“She is just a great kid who works very hard at the game and is a great leader for whatever team she plays for. We’ve worked with her for five years, and she has improved so much in that time.”
Fischetti said she’s excited for the prospects of the Mustangs this spring as they hope to return to the postseason.
“We’ve played a few tournaments this fall, and things looked pretty good,” she said. “We have a pretty young team, and there are a number of girls coming up from junior high who have talent and will be able to help the team. They have that mentality to step up to the plate.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at email@example.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.