Softball pitcher Amanda Fazio ’16 could have never anticipated the immediate success she would have when she first stepped onto the field this spring. While she had an extremely successful high school career, making all-conference teams and even Third Team All-State as a senior in New Jersey, the pitcher has taken her game to another level in her first season as a Bison.
“Amanda and I actually played with each other for some time prior to Bucknell. I can honestly say she has changed tremendously from then until now and she continues to impress me every day,” teammate Colie Escobar ’15 said.
While it is often hard for first-years to come into a program and succeed right away, standing out was not an issue for Fazio. It is no exaggeration to say that her success on the field was immediate. In fact, it was in the first game of the season for the Orange and Blue when Fazio was given the opportunity to shine on the mound.
Fazio was called upon in the sixth inning to close out a tight win against St. Bonaventure for the Bison. She did not disappoint, taking the mound for over four innings and allowing no earned runs while striking out four opposing batters as the Bison pulled out a gritty 8-7 extra-inning victory. With this outing, Fazio earned her first career win on the mound for the Orange and Blue and established her position as one of the pitchers crucial to the team’s success this season.
“Her attitude on the field is one of the most inspiring qualities about her and it’s contagious. Everytime she steps on the mound you can see in her body language she expects to give her best performance and nothing less,” Escobar said.
The success did not stop there as Fazio continued her first collegiate season. In March, only the sixth game of her career, Fazio pitched her first shutout when the Bison beat Seton Hall 4-0. Holding her opponents to only nine hits in five innings, the first-year also struck out three batters during the milestone.
“I came into this season with the goal of doing the best that I could possibly do,” Fazio said. “I am very competitive on the field, and can be very tough on myself at times. I knew that my freshman season would have some struggles, as all freshman do, but with those struggles came some great rewards and some great games…A lot may be demanded from you most days, but all of the hard work always pays off.”
Part of what has allowed her to be so successful is her attitude on the field. Fazio’s teammates describe her as being very mentally composed on the mound, a trait which is crucial for a pitcher’s success. It is often hard for first-years in any sport to achieve this level of composure on the playing field, making this trait of hers particularly impressive.
“She does an incredible job of keeping her mental game in check. I rarely ever see her lose her composure and it’s extremely hard to rattle her,” Escobar said.
As the end of the season approaches, Fazio has been even more on top of her game. On April 13, the pitcher threw one of the best games the team has seen in recent years against Lafayette for a 4-0 victory for the Bison. Fazio pitched a perfect game into the seventh inning with eight strikeouts, and by the end of the game had allowed just one hit for her third shutout in her last five games.
Fazio has also been recognized on the conference level for her success, earning Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors after her impressive performance against Lafayette. As the end of the season approaches, the pitcher has won eight games while throwing a team-high 126 innings, and Fazio still has a chance to improve on both accounts. She has also posted an ERA of 2.78 in her appearances on the mound, as well as a team-high 92 strikeouts for the season.
Besides having incredible success on the field, Fazio has also stood out as a great leader and competitor to her teammates. Her ability to lead by example in practice and in games has been crucial to much of the team’s success this season. Fazio has been able to step up and be vocal about her team improving, but she also provides support for her team.
“My teammates are the best ones out there,” Fazio said. “We spend a lot of time together, and they are always there to help you out on your good days and bad days. Coming in as a freshman, it meant a lot to me and my freshman class to have such a support system behind us our going into our first season.”
Fazio’s teammates are fortunate to have her on the team for three more years and excited about the prospect of her continuing to improve in the years to come. She will have to work hard in the offseason to stay on top of her game, as her opponents will be doing the same. Teammates anticipate that she will continue to improve due to her great work ethic.
“Bucknell is very fortunate to have her on the team because I believe she is the player we need to push this team in the forward direction,” Escobar said. “In her four years, I expect the team to continue to improve and remain successful.”
More important at the moment is what Fazio can do to help her team stay in the running for conference playoffs that are quickly approaching. In her past five appearances she has allowed opponents only one run, while posting a 0.24 ERA and allowing only a .170 batting average. The first-year seems completely prepared for the challenge: as the season goes on her performance only continues to improve.
“With a new coaching staff this year, we have all been working hard to improve our program and make a name for ourselves in the Patriot League,” Fazio said. “I know we would all love to have some Patriot League titles over the next few years and continue to play top level competition and grow as a team.”