By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Intern
(December 28, 2013) – Tuscarora High School sophomore Michala Pellegrino has made an early verbal commitment to continue her softball career at James Madison University starting in the 2016-2017 school year.
Pellegrino’s commitment makes her the third student-athlete in the class of 2016 to join Viva Loudoun’s College Choice Chart.
“Playing softball at a DI college has been my biggest dream for the longest time, and now it’s finally coming true,” said the 5-foot-4 Pellegrino. “[Committing] feels great, but I understand that I have to work even harder than I ever did.”
Born and raised in Leesburg, Pellegrino started attending James Madison softball camps about a year ago and says since then, she has known she wants to play for the Division I Dukes.
“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 42-17 overall including a 18-3 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. In their 2013 season, JMU defeated nationally ranked teams and vote receiving teams in Syracuse, South Florida, Illinois State and rival Virginia Tech.
James Madison fell in the NCAA DI Knoxville Regional to North Carolina State after earning a regional victory against Longwood.
In 2014, JMU hopes to return to the NCAA tournament with the help of Potomac Falls graduate Heather Kiefer and the 2013 VHSCA Softball AAA State Player of the Year and Stone Bridge graduate Niki Prince.
During Pellegrino’s freshmen year, the second baseman led the Huskies to a 12-9 finish losing to Loudoun Valley in their final game of the season in the Dulles District’s first round.
“My high school softball team is one big family; we all care for each other on and off the field,” said Pellegrino who plays travel softball for Loudoun Storm 18U Black. “I think we have a very successful season ahead of us. As an individual, I hope to increase my abilities and grow as a player this upcoming season with the help of coach Megan Smith.”
Pellegrino notes that without her past coaches and current Loudoun Storm 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 Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete.