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Team Italy's Erika Piancastelli powers McNeese State with two homers in 5-2 win over Southern Miss

  • Having recently been named to the Fastpitch News 2018 NCAA Division I Softball All-American Team, Team Italy slugger Erika Piancastelli is living up to expectations in her senior year at Louisiana's McNesse State University. The three-time Southland Conference player and hitter of the year blasted two home runs to help the #24 nationally-ranked Cowgirls beat Southern Mississippi 5-2 in Hattiesburg on Sunday, February 18, 2018. With the win, McNeese State's record improves to 6-3. Despite losing two of four games during the Southern Miss Black and Gold Tournament, the Cowgirls should be proud of their performance since both losses were against powerhouses Baylor (ranked #11) and Alabama (ranked #9). McNeese is looking to Piancastelli to lead the team as she has in years past. During her junior season, Erika Piancastelli became the McNeese State career leader in walks and RBI and the Southland Conference career leader in walks. She led the Cowgirls in home runs (13), walks (63), .681 slugging percent, 59 runs, 49 RBI and 109 total bases and was second on the team with a .375 batting average and 60 hits. McNeese continues in its quest to become the Southland Conference champion to qualify for the NCAA championship. The Cowgirls must first prove themselves worthy in the Eastern Michigan Madeira Beach Spring Invitational, the LSU Invitational, and the Southland Conference Tournament. Erika Piancastelli helped the McNeese State Cowgirls reach the NCAA softball regional finals for the first time in 2017. McNeese State went 24-3 in conference play and 42-18 overall during the 2017 season. Erika Piancastelli would like nothing more than bringing home a national championship before graduation. Erika Piancastelli e la mamma Loredana Auletta (Chris Heider)Regardless of the outcome, the Team Italy slugger will be honored by the San Diego Padres during Italian Heritage Night as she has been invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Petco Park on May 31, 2018. The Piancastelli family were recognized by the Italian American Baseball Foundation (IABF) at last year's IABF fundraising dinner in Brooklyn, New York. Erika's mother, Loredana Auletta, played for Team Italy in the 2000 Olympics and her father, Pier Andrea Piancastelli, played in his hometown of Modena in the Italian Baseball League. Like her mother did nearly two decades ago, Erika Piancastelli hopes to represent Italy in the 2020 Olympics. The first step for Team Italy to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo is a good showing at the 2018 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s Softball World Championship, which takes place in Chiba, Japan, from August 2-12, 2018. Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter will be pleased to have Erika Piancastelli back in his lineup after having played the 2018 Asia Pacific Cup in Sydney, Australia without his secret weapon. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti