St. Joe's strong-hitting Maddy Fitzgerald signs to play softball at Bryant

Maddy Fitzgerald, 16 hits shy of 1,000 in two seasons, wants to make up this spring for losing her junior year.

Maddy Fitzgerald, 16 hits shy of 1,000 in two seasons, wants to make up this spring for losing her junior year.

David G. Whitham / For Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL -- Maddy Fitzgerald’s ability to swing the bat and play an outstanding shortstop has earned the St. Joseph senior a scholarship to play Division I softball for Bryant University in the Northeast Conference.

“Maddy is a solid infielder with a lot of pop. She is an upbeat personality who will be a strong contributor in the future,” Bryant head coach Nick French said on BryantBulldogs.com. “I am super excited to bring this class (of six) to Bryant. They are elite in the classroom as well as on the softball field.”

Fitzgerald, an All-State and All-FCIAC selection in 2018 and 2019, has had Bryant on her radar since 8th grade.

“From a very young age I was interested in business and Bryant’s business program is amazing,” she said. “It is only miles away from home (Smithfield, R.I.) so once I started getting in touch with Coach French and could visit the campus I fell in love. It felt like home.”

Jeff Babineau, her coach at St. Joe’s, points to Fitzgerald’s inner passion for softball and her ability to lead on and off the field as strong points going forward.

“Maddy is the prototypical shortstop that have been a mainstay of our program for years,” said Babineau, who with Fitzgerald at shortstop won two FCIAC titles and a state championship. “She is one of the purest hitters to grace our program. Fielding wise she is smooth with great hand eye skills. Her softball skills are chart topping, and she was on pace to break the all-time career hit record this year if we had played last spring.”

Christine Della Vecchia is the career leader at 165, followed by Hannah Hutchison with 154. Fitzgerald is 16 hits shy of 1,000 in only two seasons.

Fitzgerald’s loss of a junior season was impactful.

“It was tough because I had a lot of close friends that were seniors. It was the last time I would have to play softball with them,” she said. “It hurt us overall as a team because now we have both sophomores and freshman that haven’t had a season under their belt. We are young but have great potential.”

French said of his incoming class: "On the field, it's a versatile group that between them can play every position on the field so they give us a lot of options. They all swing the bat extremely well and will bring a lot of power and excitement to Conaty Park."

Fitzgerald is ready to help wherever needed.

“Honestly I’m just looking to start but I’m hoping to move into a middle infield slot for Coach French if I keep working hard and put everything I have into every practice,” said Fitzgerald, who in her sophomore season led St. Joe’s in hits (44) and batting average (.464) as well as slugging 3 home runs with 30 RBIs and 29 runs scored.

Fitzgerald got out of the gate quickly her freshman year when she batted .449 on the strength of 40 hits. She hit 3 homers, drove in 26 runs and scored 24.

How can someone so young hit for average and with power?

“I hit almost everyday even if it isn’t reps off a machine to improve my swing,” she said. “The only way to get better at power and average is to swing the bat every day. I’m always practicing my swing. My friends are always teasing me for carrying my bat around and always talking softball.”

Even if it costs a lamp or two?

“Oh my gosh yes. I remember knocking things over as a kid with my wiffleball bat and my parents would say, ‘Maddy you can’t swing the bat in the house.’”

Fitzgerald believes shortstops need to be the most vocal person on the field. “Communication is the key. They command the infield. You need fast feet and a high softball IQ,” said the veteran AAU player who batted .381 with 2 HRs, 8 RBIs, and 12 runs scored for Thunder Gold this past fall season.

Fitzgerald credits her parents, mom Tamara and dad Robert, with helping her every step. She also gave a shout out to her coach.

“Coach Babineau is amazing,” she said. “You can tell how much he loves the game. He puts all his time in with us and helps us grow not only as players but as people as well. He has us give back to the community, which Coach believes is an important part of our developing years. He shapes us into great athletes and even better people.”

What has been Fitzgerald’s shining moment so far?

“Definitely winning the state championship my freshman year,” she said. “I remember the last pitch where Payton (Doiron) struck the girl out and all of us throwing our gloves in the air and falling into a big pile. It was the best moment of my high school career.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354