College Softball: Sabbatini comes back strong

Former Balers standout Megan Sabbatini had a terrific junior season for the University of San Diego, compiling a 2.90 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 181 innings.

After establishing herself as one of the best pitchers in San Benito High softball history, Megan Sabbatini entered the University of San Diego brimming with lofty expectations. Unfortunately for Sabbatini, injuries and other factors limited her playing time in her first two years at the school.
“All you want to do is play everyday on the field,” she said. “It was a bummer when I had to sit out. It definitely took a toll on me. I had to learn to deal with it and get healthy. Once I was healthy, I wanted to jump right into things. It was difficult to start off slow. I wanted to go out there and be the best, but it doesn’t work out that way all the time. I had to take things slow and work on one thing at a time. It was hard getting over the struggles, but now I’m pitching and having the greatest time of my life.”
Of that, there is no doubt. The 5-foot-5 right-hander pitched a school-record 12 innings with a career-best 13 strikeouts in USD’s 1-0 loss to Brigham Young University last Friday. Sabbatini was the ace of the Toreros, who recently finished the season 22-29 overall and 8-7 in the West Coast Conference.
The 2013 San Benito High graduate started 30 games and went 15-17 with a 2.90 ERA, striking out 171 over 181 innings. Sabbatini was named the WCC Player of the Week for May 2, when she went 2-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 14 strikeouts over three starts.
Sabbatini’s recently completed junior season represented a breakthrough for a variety of reasons. Injuries were the main factor in Sabbatini playing in just four games as a freshman and 10 as a sophomore. Sabbatini suffered a stress fracture in her right leg late in her freshman season, making things that much tougher for a player who was adjusting to the Division I level.
“I’ve grown a lot since I got here,” she said.
Sabbatini throws her fastball regularly in the 60 to 62 mph range, and she complements the heat with a devastating riseball and curveball. Sabbatini imparts tremendous upspin on her pitches, resulting in a lot of flyouts.
“I’ve had a good season because of the great defense behind me,” she said. “I rely on my teammates a lot to back me up.”
Sabbatini loves coming back home to Hollister for the summer. She considers herself a homebody, and loves spending time with family and friends. Sabbatini started playing softball at 7 with the Hollister Heat, then advanced to travel ball play two years later.
At San Benito High, Sabbatini was a part of four CCS championship-winning teams, including two in which she was the winning pitcher. In the 2013 Division I championship game, Sabbatini threw a 5-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 10-0 win over Leland.
Sabbatini credited former Balers coach Scott Smith for helping her develop the confidence and skills necessary to compete at a high level.
“In high school, I kind of struggled early on,” she said. “I had some confidence issues, and I still do now. But Scott would always tell me to believe in my self. Once I listened to that and took in what he was saying, I was like, ‘OK, I really am good.’ Things kind of clicked from there, and he pushed me all the way through high school. What we accomplished at San Benito was unforgettable. I still go back and look at those moments, and it reminds me why I’m playing this game. I’ve gained more confidence over the years, and it’s helped me become the person and player I am today.”

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