After a lost spring season, Cassi Barbato this month finally got to return to the softball field. Trumbull’s star catcher gave her car’s odometer a workout in the process.
A decorated athlete in two sports, Barbato has enjoyed a strong summer catching for Stars National, a travel team located outside of Richmond, VA.
Barbato joined the team at the end of last summer and during the fall made six-hour drives to play with them every weekend.
“We played them in Florida one year and that’s how I found out who they are, and then I just went to tryouts and now I’m on the team,” said Barbato, who was playing for the Charmers, a local club, at the time. “Everyone up here thinks I’m crazy and they ask how do I do it. I just love the sport, I love the team and it’s a great fit for me.”
Barbato earned All-FCIAC and All-State honors after helping to lead the Trumbull girls basketball team to a 19-6 finish last winter. The season ended with a loss to Greenwich in the Class LL quarterfinals on what turned out to be the final day of games before the CIAC canceled the rest of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Softball is Barbato’s best and favorite sport. During her first two seasons with the Eagles they lost in the FCIAC final twice to St. Joseph and to Amity in the 2018 Class LL championship.
Barbato was poised for a breakout year in a larger role for the Eagles, who figured to renew their rivalry with the Cadets.
Instead Barbato was resigned to working out at home with weights, a rowing machine and batting T.
“It was very difficult not getting the chance to play,” Barbato said. “We were going to be good this year and it was a fun group of girls.”
Barbato had to turn her attention to a summer season. Though it was condensed, Barbato got to play in three tournaments, flying to a pair in Georgia and Tennessee and driving to another in Georgia.
Barbato said it took her a little time to regain her form.
“It’s very good. We play a couple of the top teams in the nation,” Barbato said. “We played the No. 2 team in the country, the Tampa Mustangs. We hung with them, 4-2. The pitching is definitely better. It’s more consistent. The pitching up here is good but sometimes you get pitchers who aren’t as consistent and you have girls down south going to high-name schools. I was definitely a little rusty at first but you just shake it off and get to the next play.”
Barbato said she is a fierce competitor, which is why she chose to take the literal road less traveled to play for a team so far away.
“I love playing against the best,” Barbato said.” I always went to be the best so playing against the best helps me with that.”
One area where Barbato has an advantage over a number of athletes is college recruiting. She gave a verbal commitment at the start of last fall to Radford.
“When I stepped on campus I just knew,” Barbato said. “It was beautiful and I could see myself there. The coaches were great. They are very friendly and personable and had great drills and stuff. I just fell in love with the school. There was a lot of pressure taken off my shoulders. It was a relief to commit. It’s exciting.”
While word will soon be forthcoming about fall sports, Barbato is hoping she will get to look forward again to six-hour weekend rides that leave her friends puzzled. The last month provided a sweet reminder.
“It was so much fun,” Barbato said. “I missed softball so much. Playing with my team and at the tournaments we were playing at was a blast.”