Youth Softball: Gia Felice does it all

Gia Felice

Gia Felice bubbled with excitement as she talked about her performance in the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) Softball National Tournament from July 24 to 31 in Irvine. A sixth-grader at Southside School, Felice hit a robust .643 in the tournament playing for the Salinas Storm, the second best average among all players in any age division.
The 4-foot-10, 85-pound Felice also played well defensively at shortstop and center field. Playing on the 10-and-under team, Felice went 9 for 14 in four games for a Storm team that finished 2-2, good for 11th place out of 32 teams.
“It was a blast,” Felice said. “I had a lot of fun playing against the best competition. It was the best I’ve ever played in a big tournament.”
The tournament marked the end of the summer softball season for Felice, who then went straight to the soccer field playing as a midfielder for the Hollister Tremors 13-and-under club team. Having started both sports at roughly the same age, Felice enjoys soccer and softball equally along with another love: running.
At a middle school track meet in Morgan Hill on May 8, Felice won the 100 and 200-meter races.
“I really like running and I’m going to do track once I’m in high school,” she said. “I’m more of a sprinter than a distance runner.”
Felice excels in the classroom as well, having earned straight A’s throughout her schooling. That’s no small feat considering Felice is plenty busy balancing academics and sports year-round. Felice grew up hitting right-handed but was turned around by her father, Salvatore, who made the decision after Gia started knocking around balls into their neighbors’ yards.
“We were living in Ridgemark at the time and had a small back yard, and hitting right-handed Gia would knock balls into people’s yards and swimming pools,” he said. “One time she broke a fence plank, so I turned her to hit left-handed when she was 6.”
Left-handed hitters in softball can be downright dangerous, especially if they possess speed. When players slap at the ball, they’ve already taken a couple of steps out of the batter’s box to get a jump start toward first base. Felice has become a potent slap hitter ever since she started working with former San Benito High coach Scott Smith, who gives lessons at Blackjacks.
“Every lesson Scott gives me is the best lesson,” she said. “Scott is the best; he made me work so I’d be mentally strong. He works on everything with me: slap hitting, power slap, butcher boy.”
Butcher boy is the term used for a swinging bunt, in which the batter squares as if to attempt a sacrifice bunt, then pulls the bat back slightly and swings at the pitch.
“I try to practice as much as I can because I know practice does pay off,” she said. “I’ve noticed my hitting and defense has gotten better this summer, and it’s fun to see.”
Felice uses her speed to excel in softball and soccer. Felice loves running, which benefits her on the pitch in the latter stages of a game when players get fatigued.
“It’s really fun for me to run and track down balls in the outfield,” she said. “And I really like soccer a lot because of all the running. The more running, the better.”

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