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Congrats/Thanks Softball Team

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Congrats/Thanks Softball Team

FAU seniors prepare for final regular-season softball game

By Ted Hutton
Staff Writer
Posted May 5 2004

Boca Raton ? Florida Atlantic's three seniors have played a combined total of 712 games, starting 674 of them. They have been a part of three Atlantic Sun championship teams and have gone to three NCAA regionals.

But tonight, when they are honored during the regular season home series finale against Central Florida, Amy Bellisari, Ginny Matthews and Callie Piper all will be thinking the same thing: Where did the time go?

"I can't believe it. I never thought this time would come," said Matthews, a four-year starter at center field for the Owls.

"It doesn't seem like it's real," said Bellisari, a mainstay at second base.

"I don't even remember the past three years," said Piper, who walked on as a freshman and into the job as FAU's starting catcher.

FAU is 48-15 this season and 200-77 in the four years the three seniors have played.

FAU's softball program still is young as it completes its 10th season, but after going 33-18 in its first year, coach Joan Joyce has never had to rebuild thanks to a continuous supply of players like Bellisari, Matthews and Piper.

"Callie is the glue for us when we are on the field," Joyce said. "She's an awesome defensive catcher, Olympic material."

Piper grew up in Kansas, but her family moved to Boca Raton after her senior year of high school, and she hadn't been recruited by FAU. She arrived as an unknown but quickly took over as the starting catcher.

Matthews and Bellisari were more familiar to Joyce and local softball fans since both grew up playing in Boca and were stars on their high school teams.

Bellisari played at Boca Raton High while Matthews played for Olympic Heights.

"It went by too quickly," Bellisari said of her college playing career. Her high school coach was her father, Art, and Amy is the last of three standout Bellisari athletes.

Her two older brothers, Greg and Steve, both starred in football at Boca before playing at Ohio State. Greg is in medical school after a short stint as a linebacker with Tampa Bay, and Steve, a quarterback in college who was drafted by the Rams as a defensive back, is recovering from knee surgery and is trying to get signed by an NFL team.

"She's been very steady for us at second base," Joyce said of Bellisari. "She and Callie have the softest hands on the team."

Matthews is another strong defensive player. "She tracks down everything in the outfield. I don't think you can find anyone better [at] getting balls in the gap," Joyce said.

"I'm trying not to think about it," Matthews said of tonight's ceremony honoring the three seniors. "It's the end of a huge part of my life, and it's sad. It's going to be an emotional night."

The night also will determine the conference's regular-season champion, as UCF (39-15) holds a one-game lead. UCF is 16-2 in the A-Sun while FAU is 15-3. FAU needs to sweep to take the title, or a split would make the Owls co-champions with the Golden Knights.

The outcome also will determine the top two seeds for next week's conference tournament, which FAU is hosting.


Copyright ? 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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