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The Little East



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ECAC

 

 

RIC SOFTBALL GOES WITH THE “FLO”

 

by Brian Buonaiuto

 

Next year when the RIC softball team takes the field, someone will be playing first base and that someone will have mighty big shoes to fill. For the first time in three years that someone won't be Michele "Flo" Fanelli.

 

Since her arrival on the campus of Rhode Island College from Pembroke Pines, Florida she has virtually re-written the school’s record book. A three-time First Team All-Conference selection, she was recently named the Little East Conference’s Co-Player of the Year. She is the school’s all-time hit (156) and RBI (78) leader and her .358 batting average is third in school history. For Head Coach Maria Morin, the thought of a season without Fanelli is a sobering one. “You just don’t replace a personality like hers, it’s going to be very strange not penciling her in the lineup.”

 

Over the past four years the program has made quantum leaps. The team set the all-time wins record twice in the past three years and this season had its best-ever Little East Conference placing, finishing second in the conference behind defending NCAA Regional Champions Western Connecticut. “The program has really grown around Michele. She came here from Florida with a different experience then most of the kids around here and she has worked so hard to improve her game which has rubbed off on the rest of the team,” says Morin. “Her attitude has a domino effect.”

 

            Seeing her name at the top of all those records is something that has taken Fanelli some getting used to. “I knew I was a good player, but I didn’t expect to see myself at the top of all these records. It makes me realize that my hard work paid off, I am just glad I could do it for my team and the program.” “She has worked so hard to make herself not only a good offensive player, but she has really become a great defensive player,” says Morin. “The records are something that is a product of her improvement over her years here. I am so proud of her and I believe those records will stand a long time,” says Morin.

 

            RIC won’t just be losing its top offensive player, it will be losing their clubhouse leader. “The team knows they can always go to Michele with any of their problems,” says outfielder Sue Gaber, Fanelli’s roommate her first two years here. “With her being so far away from home, the team has become her adopted family. The past two years, she has come to my house for Easter,” says Gaber. “We have really tried to take care of her, since her mother is too far away,” says Morin.

 

            The team looks to Fanelli, not only as their leader, but their savior. “We have confidence in her. We know when we need a big hit, she is going to come through,” says outfielder Hollie Benevides.

 

            Coming from Florida, Fanelli had to get used to the rain and snow that cancelled many games. “With all the things you have to deal with around here, she always came ready to play,” says Morin. “She is a gamer.”

 

The bond between Fanelli and Morin is quite clear in the way they talk about each other. “Coach Morin has meant so much to me, she has been a huge mentor in my life. She has made me into a better person, and a better player,” says Fanelli. “I will never forget what she has done for me.”

 

Looking back on her career, Fanelli hopes she left her mark. “I hope what I have accomplished here will show the girls in the future what they can accomplish. The program has made so many improvements since I have been here and I am happy to have taken part in it.”

 

There is no questioning that moving on without Fanelli is going to be a tall order. “Knowing her from her freshman year, she has matured so much as a person. She just has a great nature about her,” says Assistant Coach Kris Norberg. “Unfortunatley losing players is something every program must deal with, someone is going to have to take on that leadership role,” she adds. “Thinking about the past years with her, all the joking, all the good times, I am going to miss her tremendously,” says Morin choking back tears. “She has been our rock.”

 

The most common observation the coaches make is the maturity of Fanelli since her freshman year. “She is a coach’s dream,” says assistant coach Ken Stanley. “Michele is the type of player that only comes along once in lifetime. To see the growth of her as a person, as a player and as a student has been special. She is a great representative of what this is supposed to be about. She defines the term student-athlete.”

 

 

 

Michele Fanelli’s Career Accomplishments

Career Total

Rank All-Time

435 At Bats

First

.359 Batting Average

Third

77 Runs

Third

156 Hits

First

31 doubles

First

7 Triples

Seventh

201 Total Bases

First

.470 Slugging Pct.

Fourth

78 RBI

First

35 Walks

Fifth

8 Hit By Pitch

First

   

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