Blackstone Valley Tech senior shortstop Bella Picard sure has accomplished a lot in her three-year softball career. The former soccer standout was forced to trade the pitch in for the diamond going into high school due to injury problems. But Picard, an Upton resident who signed her National Letter of Intent to St. Joseph’s last week, has been a quick study.
In her junior year, Picard led the nation in batting average, hitting at an .877 clip (57 hits in 65 at-bats) for the Beavers during the regular season.
Next year, Picard will become the first-ever Blackstone Valley athlete to play a Division 1 sport.
We caught up with Picard following her signing for this Q-and-A:
Q: You are still a relative newcomer to softball. What took you so long?
A: “The only reason I didn’t want to play softball [growing up] was because I thought everything was done underhand. I thought if I was playing shortstop that I have to huck it underhanded over to first base. It’s pretty embarrassing, right? But it worked out. I wouldn’t have ever picked up a bat if not for my dad.”
Q: How were you able to pick up the sport so quickly and have such success?
A: “Ralph Raymond, my summer coach, he’s taught me so much about the game – not even how to swing a bat, but the mental game. He knows more about the game than anyone. My high school coach, Denise Medaglia, she got me set up with Max Preps and setting me up to get [my batting average] out there.”
Q: Was there a time when you started to believe that you’d be able to play at the next level?
A: “I think sophomore year was the year I started getting out there, I went to some clinics in California, but I didn’t even really know how to swing a bat yet. I think a lot of them found me because of that. The University of Florida coach [Tim Walton] called to congratulate me on the season I had. Then Fordham, Syracuse, Boston University, all of them found out. But, if it wasn’t for my high school coach, that never would’ve happened.”
Q: What does it mean to you to be the first-ever from Blackstone Valley to sign?
A: “It’s great, I just found out on Signing Day, my athletic director [Michele Denise] said that she’d looked through the records and I definitely was the first one to go D-1 from the school.”
Q: Do you believe the perception exists that athletes from vocational schools are not viewed in the same regard as other high school athletes?
A: “That just drove me. Seeing things in the paper every day about Nipmuc and Milford and all their big accomplishments, I just thought why not BVT. It’s such a good school, and just because we don’t always get the best athletes, that doesn’t mean that we can’t play. That definitely drove me.”
Q: After a nearly perfect season last year at the plate, what do you hope to accomplish in your senior season?
A: “I just want to take home districts. We’re so overdue it’s not even funny. The last couple of years, the way our seasons have gone, it’s always been something, but it’s got to happen. I don’t care about my stats, personally, I just want our team to get there.”