Athlete Spotlight: Pittsfield's Giuliana Pierce, Hayley Tobin and Britney Perkett
Pittsfield softball amassed a perfect 19-0 regular season record this spring. While awaiting Tuesday's seeding meeting, and in between intense practices, the Generals' three senior captains visited The Eagle office. Giuliana Pierce, Hayley Tobin and Britney Perkett all signed their college letters of intent at a combined ceremony a few weeks ago. Now, the trio dropped by to talk their softball upbringing, future plans, Teddy's Pizza and much more. Just don't ask them about any game beyond the next one, or for a seeding prediction in the Western Massachusetts Division I tournament.
Berkshire Eagle: How did the three of you meet each other?
Britney Perkett: I think I started softball in third grade and I met Hayley. We were on the same All-Star team. We played T-Ball, because when we were younger there wasn't anything until 10U for softball.
Hayley Tobin: And Britney and I killed it in elementary school gym class. We went to Allendale together.
Giuliana Pierce: I think I started with 10U and joined them on the Berkshire Force team. I went to Williams Elementary, though.
BE: Do you guys consider anyone a rival?
HT: Wahconah is definitely a rival. It's always a super emotional and competitive game when we play Wahconah. Other than that, I guess it's Agawam in Division I. They gave us the punch, and then we gave it back to them last year.
BE: Does the "one game at a time" philosophy get difficult during an undefeated season?
HT: No, it's just practice every day, get better, play the game in front of you. We have four-game weeks a lot of times, but you're focused on the game that day.
BP: I can barely ever tell you who we're playing. They tell us on the bus and it's 'Oh, we're going there today.'
BE: Are practices crafted toward the next opponent?
HT: Yes, the pitching will speed up or slow dependent on who we're facing.
BP: Sometimes the pitcher will have spin or a specific pitch, and coach Marchbanks will actually practice and learn that pitch so we can see it before the game and know how to hit it.
BE: What has stood out this season over 19 games and 19 wins?
BP: I think it's just that everyone is hitting. The whole lineup puts in the work, there's no one person carrying anything.
HT: We've always had a good, solid group, but one through 11, everybody works hard all year round. That's the difference.
BE: Giuliana, who is the toughest hitter to get out that you've faced?
GP: Oh, man. I don't usually know names or faces. If they get a good hit, I take note of their number and file it away for next time, but that's it. I take it one batter at a time, one pitch at a time. If it's a challenge, that's great.
BE: Is there a pitcher that you guys have had trouble with?
HT: Freshman year, we faced Jill Stockley, who went on to pitch for UConn. She threw like 65, and I remember that was the fastest pitcher I had ever seen. But, I ended up getting a hit off of her. That was like shell-shock, though, and everything afterwards has been compared to that.
BE: Britney, how did the slap-hitting come about and do you ever miss swinging away?
BP: It's just so natural now that I like it. I do miss the feeling of hitting the ball and getting that really good, perfect swing, where it feels so good off the bat. I don't get that as much. I haven't had that solid feeling in so long. I love that feeling, but it's the only thing I miss.
BE: Hayley, you've caught so many innings at this point, what is left to learn?
HT: I started calling pitches sophomore year, so that's an ongoing experience, but college is going to be really different. I would say I know all the basic things, but there is still so much, just being more aware of different runners, different plays. If someone like Britney hits a gap, that's a triple, but if it's someone like me, that's probably a 2-call. I've learned a lot more than I knew before high school, but there is still a lot more to learn.
BE: Giuliana, what did you learn from your season on JV?
GP: It was definitely a good thing. I was never upset about it. I had a really good team that I still love. It definitely helped with my confidence as a freshman high school pitcher. I learned how to be a leader as an underclassmen. That helped mentally.
BE: Giuliana, your dad played professionally, any good stories from him?
GP: He was my first coach, he'll be my last coach. He's my toughest coach. I've heard so many stories, he was a big hitter. It's a lot, I come from a family of really good ballplayers. He's taught me a lot... I'd never admit to that, though.
BE: Tell us about the Starburst player of the game.
HT: That was coach Marchbanks. He pulled us over before the first game and told us he was thinking about it. It's for the underclassmen, we don't ever give it to each other. It's something we get together after the game and award it to whoever had a big day, or was super supportive, anything we notice during the game.
BP: We have a younger team, and I think it makes them want to push harder.
GP: It was good for us too, because that was kind of the first responsibility we had as captains. It helps keep us in the game and paying attention to everything every one does. It's really cool to be that involved.
HT: It makes sense. Go be the star. I don't think, like, Skittles would work.
BE: Do you guys have any major summer plans?
BP: I'm heading to Alabama in a couple weeks, but I'll be working at Dairy Cone and Arizona Pizza. We'll be working with Sam Barbarotta at her two-week softball camp.
HT: I'll be starting at Patrick's pretty soon.
BE: Do you know what you want to study in college?
BP: I really want to be a vet. It's not offered specifically at UMass Boston, but there are classes I can take that will help get into pre-vet. I have a dog and a cat. I definitely like dogs most. There is a cat hospital in Lenox, and I'd like to try and open a vet just for dogs, if that's possible.
HT: I'd like to be a high school history teacher. It's always been a class that I really like and do well in. I'd like to coach as well, and that seems like a good avenue towards that.
GP: I want to teach high school Spanish. I've been taking it since 8th grade, but my junior year, I just loved my teacher and knew I wanted to do that. I got to see how much I loved Spanish, and I want that for others.
BE: What's on the Pittsfield softball pregame playlist?
BP: Throwbacks. Like mid-2000s, middle school years.
HT: Songs we heard when we were like five, so now they're throwbacks.
BE: What's the go-to spot to eat in Pittsfield?
BP: Definitely Teddy's Pizza. They're the best.
HT: That's our spot, right next to school.
GP: I've always liked Dottie's and Panchos, but Teddy's is great.
BE: What's the story with your book of quotes on Hayley's gear bag?
GP: We get one every single game. I think it's been happening for three years now. Coach Hilary Smith laminates them and gives them to us before every game.
HT: She and coach Marchbanks will lay a bunch out on the bench before the game, and you can see them over there going through to pick one out. Some of my favorites are Hank Aaron.
BP: My favorite is from Babe Ruth: "The way a team plays as a whole determines it's success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."
GP: We had "Si se puede." Yes I can in Spanish. I don't know where that came from.
BE: That's from a Disney Channel Original Movie. Wait, do you guys know what that is?
GP: What are you talking about?
BE: Gotta Kick it Up, with America Ferrara. It was from 2002.
GP: I didn't know it was from a movie.
HT: You were like two years old!
GP: Don't think I've seen that one. But "G se puede" is going on my graduation cap.
BE: What are you guys doing the next couple days to stay in it, with seeding coming.
HT: We'll practice every day. Not really expecting anything from seeding. Every year you think you'll get a good seed and then you don't. So don't expect it. Take what you get and play softball.
GP: We're not focusing on it. Last year we were like six, and we did just fine. We're just going to play who you put in front of us and do what we do.
Interview conducted, edited and condensed by Mike Walsh.
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