Riverview’s Alyssa Cappa set for softball tournament in Netherlands
By: Michael Love
Sunday, January 13, 2019 | 6:57 PM
Alyssa Cappa’s first and only travel experience beyond the borders of the United States was a family vacation to Mexico.
The Riverview junior, one of the top high school-age softball players in the area, will be able to update her international checklist this week as she heads to the Netherlands to take part in the annual International Indoor Softball Tournament, also known simply as “The Cup.”
Preparation for the trip and tournament began immediately after her selection in September.
“My travel team knows the people who run the program, and they contacted my coach and asked if I wanted to play,” said Cappa, a member of the Nitro Fastpitch 18U club team. “I didn’t have to think about my decision too much. This is a great opportunity for me. I am extremely excited.”
Cappa also is a member of the basketball team. The week in Europe will take her away from only one game, Riverview’s section matchup Thursday against Ellis. The Raiders won’t play again until Jan. 24, and she will be back for that contest against Jeannette.
Cappa will play against European players up to a decade older with years of professional or international experience ,including Olympic tournaments.
Several from America who have participated in this tournament are playing professionally in Europe.
“That would be a fun experience,” Cappa said.
Cappa is part of a group of 50 American and Canadian players who will be on six teams representing the USA. Others from the area taking part in tournament are Megan Smith (North Allegheny), Abbigayle Fullem (Southmoreland), Chloe Paugh (Peters Township), Sophia Piatt (Keystone Oaks), Madelyn Chapla (Butler), Makayla Munchinski (Latrobe), Irlynn Richardson (Penn Hills) and Sophia Pries (Upper St. Clair).
Sixteen teams, including ones from Great Britain, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, will play 48 games Friday through Sunday in three indoor arenas in Schiedam, a suburb of Rotterdam.
“It’s a big deal for these girls,” said Kirt Whiteside, a coordinator for the American/Canadian contingent. “It could be the best tournament they will ever play in because each of the 16 teams could win the event. That’s not true of most other tournaments. The players on these European teams have committed to making softball their career.
“Of the 14 players on the Dutch national team, 11 of them have gone to Division I schools in America.”
Each team in the tournament consists of 10 players. A Dutch athlete or two will join each USA team.
“Each Dutch athlete is a national-level player,” Whiteside said.
The indoor arenas provide for some unique rules. Batters begin each at-bat with a 1-1 count, and a ball is playable if it hits the ceiling.
“It is a game of speed,” Cappa said.
Up to eight can take the field at one time.
“There are no subs,” Whiteside said. “You don’t travel 4,000 miles and sit the bench.”
On Thursday, the day of arrival, Cappa will teach at a clinic for 150 girls from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. They will present instruction with the Dutch Olympic team, which will go to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“(The clinic participants) want to get better in the sport, and they also want to get better at speaking English,” Whiteside said. “They fall in love with our athletes. Alyssa will come away with two or three girls who will think she’s the best. That is probably the most impactful thing. It’s always a valuable experience for the girls.”
Cappa’s participation in any sport was put in jeopardy a couple of months ago with the discovery of an abnormal heart rhythm.
A couple of trips to the hospital, including one after a basketball workout about a month ago, helped with the recovery. Medication, Alyssa’s mother, Amanda, said, has been successful in her treatment.
“Alyssa’s overall health was my main concern,” Amanda said. “Her concern was asking her doctors if she could still go to Europe. This trip means so much to her.”
Cappa’s focus now is on playing well in the tournament and also on a three-day excursion to Paris to cap the week abroad.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-388-5825, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.