By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (July 13, 2015) – Tuscarora High School rising senior Michala Pellegrino has stayed firm on early verbal commitment to continue her softball career at James Madison University starting in the 2016-2017 school year.
“JMU has one of the most successful softball programs on the East Coast, and I get to be a part of it. I am looking forward to be coached by one of the best coaches around to take my game to the next level,” the 5-foot-4 Pellegrino said. “Also, now that it’s been a little over a year since I have committed, I have had a better chance to meet some of the other girls committed the same year as me and other girls that will still be playing at JMU when I arrive. I am so excited to become a part of the team and finally be playing softball at my dream college.”
About three years ago, the Leesburg-native started attending softball camps at James Madison and has known ever since that she wanted to be a Division I Duke.
“I chose JMU because I fell in love with their softball program,” Pellegrino said. “I love everything about the school. The softball coaches are amazing, the stadium is beautiful and the environment of the school, in general, is just perfect.”
The Dukes softball program excelled last season finishing 48-10 overall including a 19-0 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. In their 2015 season, No. 22 JMU defeated nationally ranked teams and vote receiving teams in Central Florida, Hofstra, Minnesota and North Carolina.
James Madison fell in the NCAA DI Harrisonburg Regional to North Carolina State and Fordham after earning a regional victory against Binghamton.
In 2016, JMU hopes to return to the NCAA tournament with the help of 2013 Stone Bridge High School graduate Niki Prince.
During Pellegrino’s junior year, the outfielder led the Huskies to a 10-14 finish losing to Patrick Henry in their final game of the season in a VHSL 5A North region quarterfinal.
“I am excited to see how the team will turn out next year. Tuscarora softball has been one of the hardest working programs I have ever been a part of, and I have nothing but the highest hopes for this upcoming season,” Pellegrino said. “We have been knocked out of the second round of the region two years in a row — against the same team — and the one thing I would like to accomplish this year as a team is to make it past that second round.”
Pellegrino noted that without her past coaches and current Fielder’s Choice Elite coach Jen Long, she wouldn’t be the softball player she is today, but says her biggest motivation comes from her personal and team successes.
“Nothing is better than getting up to bat and having a solid hit or making a diving catch in the field; it’s the little successes like those that motivate me to keep working hard,” Pellegrino said. “I fell in love with game around the age of 5 back when my parents first introduced me to softball. I’ve never played a sport other than softball. It’s all I know.”
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. Before attending SU, Owen graduated from Heritage High School in Leesburg. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.