Being the very first pick in the 2013 NPF Draft which was stacked with talented pitchers was quite an accomplishment. Even though Rachele Fico may not have finished the season with the best record or the best stats of the rookie pitchers, after talking to her, there is no doubt in my mind that owner Joey Arietta made the right choice. Rachele is the type of selfless leader that is needed on a team. Each time we spoke it was never about her and how she was doing, she always gave the team so much credit. Though the worst times or any losing streak she was so proud to be a Racer and her team was the biggest concern, it was blatantly obvious the first time I spoke with her.
The type of enthusiasm that Fico displays isn’t typically found in someone who has been through what she has, something many of us couldn’t even fathom. Sixteen days before taking the circle for the first time for the Akron Racers, she lost her father Ralph to cancer. The loyalty that was instilled in her by her father was tested days before his death, when she decided to stay with her LSU Tigers during the College World Series even when she wasn’t pitching. The following day after taking a second 1-0 loss in the WCWS she was hit with the worst adversity anyone could have.
After going through struggles like that anything would seem minimal. Her first appearance for the Racers was less than desirable, giving up five runs in only 1/3 of an inning. However she bounced right back and pitched a perfect inning the following night. Soon she was getting her first start and got her first win in a complete game against the Comets June 20. “The season has been a struggle sometimes, it’s really tough when you get hit hard and you’re not used to that.” says Rachele, “But I have so much faith in my team and when I let my defense work I’m usually pretty successful.”
That first appearance is in the ancient past now, after finishing the season with a 5.06 ERA and leading the Racers with six wins. “It’s definitely been a learning experience. I definitely feel more comfortable now that I know the opposing teams and their batters.” Rachele gives her overall perspective on her season, “It’s kind of like being a freshman in college all over again, it’s been a learning experience and I just need to continue to grow and get better. I have to change the way I pitch from day-to-day so the other team can’t make adjustments. Cass has done a phenomenal job behind the plate.” Rachele got plenty of work, pitching 74.2 innings on the season, which is 7th most in the NPF. Her 23 appearances was tied for the most with Monica Abbott, including 5 complete games, 4 of which were wins.
Check Out Our Interview with Rachele Fico Below
Her best stretch of the season had to come in the second half of July when she was relied on very heavily with the absence of Ivy and injuries to Lisa and Hillary. In an eleven day stretch she pitched 7 times, three times each against the Pride and Bandits. She came out of that brutal stretch with a pair of wins against the Pride, a complete game victory over the Comets and a 1-0 loss to the Bandits. In total she pitched 31.2 innings and came out 3-2 with a 4.86 ERA, 12 K’s. Like any competitor she enjoyed every moment of it! “I love having the ball in my hands, I love being on the mound and I’ll pitch any time they ask me to. We have a very talented staff so we have plenty of options. I just have to play my role. Whatever they ask me to do I’ll do, but of course I love being out on the field and I don’t mind throwing every game if I have to. We’re lucky enough to have a staff where that doesn’t have to happen.”
Rachele Fico is a building block to the Racers future, she is a player that will bring success to Akron. If there is any doubt about that, there will be none after you listen to her and realize the integrity, character and leadership she possesses on top of her immense talent…
Special Thanks to Rachele Fico ( @supafic ) for Sitting Down
Follow Us on Twitter @HOFHuddle