Fruitvale pitcher shines in national tournament

Team B.C. finds silver lining at Baseball Canada’s Senior Women’s Invitational championship in Spruce Grove, Alta.

Ella Matteucci and Team B.C.’s quest for gold came up silver at Baseball Canada’s Senior Women’s Invitational championship in Spruce Grove, Alta. on the weekend, however, the Fruitvale native’s performance was simply outstanding on the mound.

Matteucci led Team B.C. to the gold-medal game, picking up two wins, two game MVP nods, and a national team selection along the way.

Unfortunately, Team B.C. lost its bid for gold in an 11-0 loss to Ontario on Saturday. The easterners only led 3-0 until the top of the sixth inning when they pushed eight runs across the plate to break it open.

Unforced errors and an inability to generate any offence in the game hurt B.C. especially against a team that has eight players on the national squad.

“I wish it would have ended up better,” said Matteucci. “It was exciting to play for the gold medal, but I just wish we would have had a better showing.”

Matteucci beat Ontario 6-4 in the first game of the round robin Thursday, allowing two runs in five-innings pitched and was named MVP of the game.

Team B.C. then went on to defeat Team West 10-0 and Quebec 8-6 before getting walloped by Alberta 13-0 in the final game of the preliminary round.

But their 3-1 record made them top-seed and set up a semifinal rematch against Alberta, while Ontario played Quebec in the other semi.

After the humbling defeat to Alberta, Team B.C. coaches Randy Elrick and Al Forman told the 19-year-old pitching phenom that she would be starting the semifinal game against Alberta.

“He told me I was pitching after the 13-0 game, and maybe I was a little nervous because of the fact that they just killed us, but no, I wasn’t that nervous,” said Matteucci. “I feel like I’m most comfortable pitching, whereas say if I’m playing short stop or catching I’m maybe more nervous, just because I have confidence in my pitching.”

The Fruitvale native didn’t disappoint, pitching a complete game 3-0 shutout, giving up eight hits and one walk while striking out seven batters for the victory. Matteucci also scored two runs, going 1-for-3 at the plate.

“I think my best performance was in the semifinal game. Our defence wasn’t very good in the 13-0 game, but our coaches just kept telling us, ‘You guys have to play the full seven innings,’ and I think finally in the semifinal game we actually did.”

Her two wins and 15 Ks led the tournament as she was named player of the game in both trips to the mound.

The Clarkson University student played shortstop in the other four games, going 3-for-12 at the plate.

Following the tournament, the daughter of Paul and Melissa Matteucci was named to the national team, but Ella decided to take a pass on the IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Edmonton Aug. 10-19, to prepare for the upcoming hockey season.

“That was a personal decision not to attend Worlds because of hockey. I have to return to school on the 22nd 23rd (of August) . . . I didn’t get as much playing time (for the national team) as I would have liked last year, and if I wasn’t working towards it, say the weeks leading up to school, then I might get opted out of playing again and I don’t want to ever experience that feeling again.”

Matteucci is heading back to Wilcox, Sask.  next week to assist at Notre Dame’s women’s hockey showcase that helps young female hockey players further their hockey careers and get recruited to Canadian and NCAA colleges.

She will then return to instruct at the Champions Hockey School at the Trail Memorial Arena Aug. 12-18.

With lots of hockey on her plate, Matteucci says she can wait a year or two before committing to the national baseball team. As long as she plays in the Women’s invitational with Team B.C., Matteucci will remain eligible.

The former J. L. Crowe student is a graduate of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame where she led her hockey team to a national championship, was named 2011 female athlete of the year, and also made history by pitching a no hitter in the Regina baseball league.

While a ‘Hound,’ Matteucci received a hockey scholarship for Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. where she will return for her sophomore year.