By Tucker Paquette
In the early stages of a rainy Saturday afternoon doubleheader this past weekend, Springfield College first-year softball player Amelia DeRosa notched a one-out double. However, this wasn’t your average extra-base hit – because it broke Springfield’s single season record. It is certainly an impressive feat, but it’s one that would likely earn even more fanfare if it was anyone else who accomplished it.
That’s because it is quite possibly the third most impressive achievement of DeRosa’s season this year, as she has also hit for the cycle and thrown a perfect game.
If that sounds insane, it’s because it is. DeRosa has played at a sky-high level this year. As of May 2, DeRosa holds a .507 batting average at the plate, alongside a 2.33 ERA from her outings on the mound.
Admittedly, DeRosa has been taken aback by the success she has found so early in her collegiate career.
“It’s been really surprising and rewarding because I’ve worked my whole life, playing softball since I was five years old with my dad,” DeRosa said. “I didn’t expect this much to happen, but it feels like all my hard work paid off.”
Her father, Michael DeRosa, has been a mix of a teacher, motivator and fan of DeRosa’s since she first started playing softball. The experiences with her father, a former college baseball player, stand out to her.
“He taught me everything he learned and he taught me from his mistakes,” DeRosa said. “He’s been with me the whole way. He made me mentally tougher, pushed me to my limits, and was also very nurturing.”
“He’s always there, supporting me, texting me before games, trying to come to as many as he can,” DeRosa added.
But long before it was time for DeRosa to prove herself to collegiate coaches, she had to prove herself to someone else: her father.
He was skeptical of Amelia’s desire to play softball, and wasn’t sure it would work out. When she was looking to get hitting instructions, he even told her to go back inside and “play with her Barbies.”
As it would turn out, though, one day spent practicing on the batting tee would completely alter her father’s view of Amelia’s current abilities and future potential.
On this day, Amelia brought out the tee and swung right-handed with a lovely swing, which caught Michael’s attention.
However, when Amelia did the same swing from the left side, a “compact” cut, as her father would describe it, the depth of her skill set truly struck him for the first time.
“I’m like, ‘that’s it, I’m in,’” he said.
As Amelia continued to progress, there were more indicators that she had a bright future ahead of her. One of them was how she didn’t play against the typical competition.
“When [Amelia] was young, she almost never played with anybody her age,” Michael said.
Michael always challenged Amelia to play up (meaning against older kids), and the first time she did so, she was 11 years old and played with 15 and 16-year-olds. She ended up playing on the high school JV team in 7th grade and was a key contributor on that team.
As Amelia racks up the accomplishments and the Pride racks up the wins, her father believes her mindset and character are just as present as her on-field prowess.
“She doesn’t have much of an ego at all,” Michael said. “I’m sure with all the accolades [that she has earned], she would give up every single one of them for a NEWMAC championship, and the opportunity to pass it along to a young girl [who] loves this game.”
“She isn’t thinking about breaking records,” said Springfield College’s head softball coach Kate Bowen. “She just wants to win for the team.”
Amelia’s leadership skills are not a new development this year, however. Michael returns to his daughter’s senior year in high school, referring to it as her “give back year” with how she treated her teammates.
“She took them all under her wing, and she made these kids believe in themselves and realize that they absolutely belong,” he said.
DeRosa is prepared to pass along additional softball-related wisdom, as she is beginning to get into coaching, and trying to help other players. Her father is pleased with this, too.
“You’ve got to pay it forward, and that’s the next thing I’m starting to see from her,” Michael said.
Moments and memories like these serve as a form of validation for Michael, as it shows him all his work to help Amelia be a quality person and teammate is paying off.
“Her success on the softball field isn’t what was [most] important to me,” he said. “I wanted to bring up a strong and independent young lady, and that’s what she’s become. The vehicle in which we did that was through softball. What you see on the field is the person she is off the field.”
The fact that DeRosa is making her mark on the diamond also brings ample joy to her father. He is grateful to have played a part in her reaching this point.
“There was nothing more important to me than being able to be out there with her and share that time with her, and be able to teach her,” Michael said.
DeRosa gives credit to the coaches she’s had along the way, in addition to her father, for getting her ready for her moment at Springfield College.
“I’ve been really fortunate [because] all the coaches I’ve had have prepared me perfectly for this,” DeRosa said. “My dad pushed me and taught me, my pitching coaches for my teams pushed me and taught me, and helped me.”
While she enjoys racking up the records, DeRosa maintains a selfless, team-oriented approach to the game she loves. This attitude, along with her play, endears her to her teammates, coaches and, of course, her father.
“I play to be a part of a team, it’s like a family, and I’ve found that here,” DeRosa said. “When I get on the field, I just want to go to war with my teammates and play as hard as I possibly can.”
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Athletics