Softball serves as the great escape from everyday life for Coppell sophomore Emily Fischetti.
Fischetti took a liking to baseball when she was 3 years old and played in her first softball game when she was 7, and when the most trying times of her life occurred in 2018, she was quickly reminded of the significance of having sports in her life.
When picking her jersey number to wear for her club team, Eagles Fast Pitch (now Illusions Gold Schrader), Fischetti favored No. 10 because her birthday fell on Feb. 10. However, with another teammate already wearing that number, she settled for No. 00. She was OK with it. It was a reminder of her devotion to her Christian faith.
“It reminds me that God is always watching,” she said. “The 00s look like eyeballs. It’s just a reminder of who I play for: the Lord, my teammates. And I always tell myself before I go up to bat, ‘He died so I can play for Him.’ I make a sign of a cross on my chest, and when I step into the box, step in the field, all of my problems go away.”
Two years ago, Fischetti nearly died after contracting two different viruses. She became ill because of over-anxiety and over-compensation with her school work. At least part of it she attributes to having dyslexia. In September 2018, she was hospitalized for five days but her recovery at home lasted five months and it took one year for her immune system to get back to normal levels.
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and decoding words, according to Mayo Clinic.
“I didn’t get to play softball for a long time, and I remember sitting on the couch crying because all I wanted to do was play,” she said.
Kelly Fischetti, Emily’s mother, shared a picture on Facebook of her daughter’s teammates who drew two zeroes in black ink on each of their arms as a show of support of their ill-stricken teammate.
“#WinItForFish,” the post read.
“My mom has fought for me every minute of every day, and I couldn’t be blessed to call her my mom,” Emily said. “I don’t know what I would do without her. My dad has pushed me to be the ballplayer I am today, and I would do anything to thank them for all of the support they have given me throughout my life.”
For as hard as these last two years have been for Fischetti, softball has allowed her to focus on all of the positive aspects of her life. Softball has been a guiding light.
In the summer of 2019, she traveled to three different countries in Europe – The Netherlands, Belgium and German, where she played for an ABSA USA team coached by Brooke Richards and Chet Schrader, who is also her club coach. Against Germany, and with USA down to its last out and trailing by two runs, Fischetti lined a two-run double into center field to tie the score. Team USA went on to win the game.
On that same trip, she also met Scarlett Poore, who Emily now refers to as “my little softball sister.”
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this girl,” Emily said. “She came into my life and saved me. She made me realize that you don’t need everything to be successful, and that love is real.”
These days, Moore is guarding the first-base line for Illusions Gold Schrader, which has traveled as far away to Kansas City for tournaments. Two weeks ago, Illusions Gold placed second in the Southern Nationals in Plano. They took ninth at the World Fast Pitch Championships in Kansas City. Next Tuesday through Friday, Illusions Gold will be back in Plano for the Texas FastPitch Championships.
Through all of the ups and downs that Fischetti has dealt with not only on the softball field, but also health-wise, Schrader has been by her side since they first met more than 10 years ago.
“He is like my second dad, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him,” she said. “He’s a huge part of my life when I started high school. He came to all my school games.”
Away from her club team, Fischetti was given instruction on fielding and hitting skills in front of several college coaches at the Southern Nationals Evaluation Camp, at select Triple Crown softball camps and other college camps across North Texas.
Nothing is stopping Fischetti in her dreams of one day playing college softball. Not even a virus.
Having gone through two different health scares while battling a virus and with a suppressed immune system, she understands the risks that she takes every time she steps onto the field during the current coronavirus pandemic.
“It does scare me a lot,” Fischetti said. “This summer, I have had to travel a lot for softball, but I love the game so much I’ll do whatever it takes to play.”
The kind-hearted approach that Schrader has shown to Fischetti over the past decade is the same feeling that she has received from Coppell head softball coach Mike Dyson and his staff.
It’s not just the joy for softball, but also the importance of building friendships with teammates, building memories that last a lifetime, and being sensitive to Fischetti’s dyslexia.
“They have made me realize that there’s so much more to softball than just the game,” she said. “I used to care about the strikeouts, my batting average or the mistakes I made, but getting so sick and almost dying made me realize life’s too short to not enjoy every moment. So, my Coppell coaches have supported me and taught me that you can strive through pain, because pain is temporary.”
After playing Coppell’s junior varsity team as a freshman, Dyson said Fischetti will be in the mix to compete for the starting varsity team job at first base. Olivia Reed, bound for the University of Texas at Dallas, had a firm grasp on that role until she graduated this past spring.
Fischetti described Reed as a leader who taught her how to play softball with people that love and appreciate her.
And it’s not just from a leadership perspective where Fischetti strives to excel.
Dyson describes Fischetti as a “very positive” person who comes to practice every day ready to work hard.
“She’s starting to hit the ball a lot better,” Dyson said. “She can play, no doubt. She’s a hard worker. Even last year, we saw some good things from her at first base. She was always able to receive throws from the infield and was able to pick up the throws. We had a senior first baseman, and she was irreplaceable. Emily had a lot of bright spots and she has quite a story, too."
Away from softball, Fischetti has a podcast called “M&M Podcasts By: Emily Fischetti” on anchor.com, where she shares her personal struggles with health and dyslexia with her listeners.
“I have a lot of softball teammates on my select team that I call my little sisters,” she said. “I wanted away to share things with them, to share my story. I came up with it because I have a thing for audio books, and I thought that I would make my own. I wanted to tell people that it’s OK to be different —those who love you will find a way to be in your life.”