Tori Nappo named Metro Source softball player of the year
Tori Nappo never dreamed she'd ever have the chance to throw out the first pitch at Buffalo Bisons game.
But that's just was she did on July 17 as she fired the ball across the plate to Buster Bison.
It's a perk that comes with helping the Clarence High School varsity softball team win the state championship.
The entire Red Devils team was recognized on the field prior to the Bisons-Toledo game that night, as Nappo and teammate Katie Bull, took part in the ceremonial first pitch.
"Oh my gosh. Never," Nappo said with a smile. "I used to go to the games and watch, but never actually think that I'd be the one throwing (first pitch). It was crazy. I felt like a celebrity, there was all of these people on the field and me and Katie went out there. It was really awesome. It was a really cool experience."
Another perk on Nappo's resume is being named the 2012 All-Metro Player of the Year for softball.
There's no doubting that this was one of, if not the best varsity softball team, in the history of Clarence High School.
But while every girl did her part to help the Lady Red Devils achieve the goal of the 2012 Class AA NYSPHAA championship, you get the feeling that Tori Nappo was the lynch-pin that held it all together.
"She just a competitor. There's no one more competitive than her," Red Devils coach Todd Banaszak said. "Her drive to win and her drive for her teammates to do good. You can't match it."
A four-year varsity standout in softball, soccer and basketball, Nappo exits high school holding several records-including softball records of most hits (133), doubles (23), triples (13) and home runs (17).
Bringing the of intangibles of a true champion, Nappo is the kind of player that makes everyone around her better. While Nappo's contributions go beyond the black and white of stats she is that classic game-breaker.
Nappo went on a tear as she cranked home runs in each of her teams last seven games.
"Tori's home run in the state championship game was probably the most influential play I've ever seen," Banaszak added.
Both Banaszak and Nappo were quick to say that winning the state title was the result of every girl pulling her share of the load. Success came because every girl had the same work ethic, character and will to win.
"It was a total team effort," Nappo said."Everyone wanted it just as much as the next person. Every practice, you never had to get on anybody. Everyone just came out to do business. Everyone just came out to work and we all wanted it bad. It was really an awesome thing."
Winning its 12th ECIC Division I title under coach Todd Banaszak, the Red Devils claimed the programs seventh Sectional title when they thumped Niagara-Wheatfield 18-5 in the Section VI AA title game.
With three appearances in the state finals already, the Red Devils reached the top of the mountain and capped off an amazing 23-1 season with a 3-1 victory over Section III Cicero-North Syracuse on June 9.
Coming so close, so often the satisfaction of seeing the mission through is something every girl took pride in.
"We knew we could do it," Nappo said. "The fact that we actually accomplished what we've been working for all year is the best feeling ever. Especially my last year as a senior. It doesn't end much better than that."
Nappo will continue her softball career at Canisius College.
Tori Nappo (Clarence/OF), Alyssa Dewes (Clarence/catcher), Katie Bull (Clarence/pitcher), Caitlin Attfield (Niagara-Wheatfield/SS), Bridget Hogan (Hamburg/pitcher), Emily Belfield (Lockport/OF), Yasmin Harrell (Cheektowaga/SS), Kim Rohe (Cleveland-Hill/pitcher), Rachel Ziarnowski (Holy Angels/C/SS), Shelby Donhauser (Kenmore West/P/1B) and Gabe Boldinski (Kenmore East/SS).
Elizabeth Bourne (Nichols), Lizzy Viola (Nichols), Allison Benz (Mt.Mercy), Lauren Lubecki (St.Mary's), Maureen Rodgers (Clarence), Maria Gabrielle (Sacred Heart), Ryleigh Fitzgerald (Lewiston-Porter), Meghan Cuda (Lewiston-Porter), Heather Tigue (Hamburg), Brianna Opera (Lancaster) and Lauren Yaskow (Depew).
Haley Struebing (Williamsville-South), Jenna Allers (Williamsville-East), Mindy Odrobina (Maryvale), Bri Trapper (MSM), Hannah Turek (Lancaster), Megan Lewis (West Seneca East), Tina Partridge (Tonawanda), Kate Miller (Kenmore West), Lauren Crooks (Niagara-Wheatfield), Jaclyn Bellanti (Kenmore East), Lainey Marterise (Williamsville-North) and Lauren Muni (Clarence).