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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Bianca Fitch; A Softball Player Now, But Playing Volleyball In College

By Christopher Tremblay

Staff Sports Writer

Like so many young girls growing up in Hopedale, Bianca Fitch was introduced to softball when she was in kindergarten. 

Her mother signed her up to play softball and soccer at the young age to get her involved in sports to give her something to do. She took to softball and has been playing for the past 12 years.  

Although softball is her favorite sport and one she has been playing for as long as she can remember, it will not be one that she will play in college. The Hopedale native was recruited by Stonehill College in Easton to play volleyball for the Skyhawks, a commitment she made two years ago, during her sophomore year in highs school. 

While Softball is dear to her hear she loves volleyball almost as much. 

“I began playing volleyball in seventh grade and if you ask me which is my favorite sport, I’d say volleyball during the fall and winter seasons, but softball is my favorite during the spring and summer months,” Fitch said. “I may be playing volleyball for Stonehill, but I will try to join an intramural or club softball team as it is the sport that I have been playing forever and I just can’t give it up.”

It was around fourth or fifth grade when she decided to try pitching for the first time and since that time it has been her position.

“There were a couple of girls pitching and when they left, I was willing to try out the position. My dad and I watched a lot of softball on tv, and I thought that it weas a pretty cool position,” she said. “Growing up a lot of girls try pitching but most of them gave up on it, but I found that it was one of my favorite things to do so I continued to pitch.”

As she entered the Hopedale Jr/Sr High School she began her softball career with the junior varsity squad and in eighth grade she was one of a few girls who would play for both the JV and varsity teams throughout the season. As she entered her freshman campaign, she was named the varsity team’s starting pitcher.

“It was really crazy; my first varsity start was as a freshman. I was very nervous that day, but I knew that Hopedale had a good team, so I was excited to get out there and be a part of that winning culture,” Fitch said.

The year prior the Blue Raiders went 12-8 during the regular season and captured the Division 3 Central Championship before falling to Turner Falls 2-1 in the State Semi-Finals. During her first year as the Hopedale starter the team didn’t perform as well as they had the previous year finishing the regular season with a 10-9 record and barely getting into the tournament as the ninth seed. 

“We didn’t have that great of a record my freshman year, but once we got into the tournament we just kept winning,” she recalled. “It was unbelievable to be part of that team until we had to face the number one team in Millbury. I didn’t know what to expect but we beat them 8-4 and went onto win our second straight Divisional Championship; it is one of my favorite memories over my softball career.”

With a full year under her belt in the pitching circle, Fitch and her teammates were more than confident the following year as they cruised to a 16-2 regular season record, earned the number one seed in the tournament, and went on to dispatch of their opponents by a 30-6 score to bring home their third straight championship. 

After winning the Division 3 Central Title three years in a row the Blue Riders were poised to make it four straight before Covid hit the country and basically put the country in a lockdown. Fitch and her teammates were looking stronger than ever that season and were primed and ready for the season to get underway.

“We were defiantly ready to compete again, were had already took part in a couple of captains practices when Covid happened – it was heartbreaking,” she said. “While we weren’t able to do anything we just kept hoping that it would end, and we’d get back onto the field sooner than later.”

Unfortunately, sports did not return and a few months later when Fitch was to begin her senior year in high school things were still up in the air. She wondered to herself if she’d ever get the chance to step back onto the softball field before she graduated. 

“I was not sure what was going to happen this year, especially after the fall seasons all being moved around. We just kept our fingers crossed that by the time the softball season came around that we’d be able to play,” she said. “As a senior you don’t want to go out that way (having your final two seasons cancelled), but we were so lucky to eventually get the clearance to get back onto the field.”

Once they got onto the field Fitch, who knew the Hopedale team was very strong, was hoping to pitch the Blue Raiders once again to yet another District championship.  When the season first got underway it was unclear if there would even be a post-season and if Hopedale would have the opportunity to win another Sectional Title.  At the time of this writing the Blue Raiders finished the regular season undefeated (11-0) and were awaiting the seedings for the upcoming tournament. Fitch was a major reason the Blue Raiders were able to reach tournament this, her final season.

As a senior hurler Fitch went 11-0 in the circle, pitching all but 12 innings this season while striking out 138 batters, an average of 12.5 Ks per game while only walking 2 per contest. At the plate she also batted a sizzling .486 batting in the heart of the Hopedale lineup.

“When Bianca first got here, she use to walk a lot of batters, but since that time she has gained speed and added more pitches to her game,” Hopedale Coach Shanna Lathrop said. “As a freshman she was dominant and had a lot of balls put into play. This year she has struck out 138 batters in only 11 games.”

Although her command of the plate has been amazing and batters are going down like flies, Fitch doesn’t understand while her strikeout numbers have increased so much this season.

“I’ve always had a decent number of strikeouts, but I really don’t know why or how they went up this year,” the senior said. “It’s one of those things that I talk to my father about and while we don’t know the reason it is thrilling to strike a batter out, especially so many.”

Fitch is hoping that she has the opportunity to see a lot more batters take the walk back to the dugout after she’s struck them out as Hopedale looks to defend its Sectional Title and make it four straight— and maybe even be able to get past Turner Falls, who has ended the Blue Raiders season for the past three years and capture a State Championship. Now that would be a fitting way to end her high school career with Hopedale.

“I’m hoping that we can win our fourth District Championship,” Fitch said. “That would be really cool, but whatever happens this last year of playing softball has been a great way to go out.