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A coach on the field at Eustace

After Bishop Eustace junior Brianne Innamorato zoomed into second base with an RBI double in Wednesday's softball game against Paul VI, she did not celebrate much.

Bishop Eustace softball player Brianne Innamorato.
Bishop Eustace softball player Brianne Innamorato.Read more

After Bishop Eustace junior Brianne Innamorato zoomed into second base with an RBI double in Wednesday's softball game against Paul VI, she did not celebrate much.

The tall shortstop with long, blond hair did not react much when she ranged to her left or right to make a strong play in the field, either.

Bishop Eustace is 2-10 this season. While Innamorato has committed to play at Florida Gulf Coast University and is hitting .517 with five doubles, a triple, and three home runs this season, she puts her emotion into supporting the teammates around her.

You can hear whenever she's in the field. Innamorato, naturally quiet and soft spoken, is audible in her words of encouragement for her teammates in the field and constantly reminds them of the situation in the game.

She also is the first one congratulating a teammate on a big hit or picking someone up after a tough at-bat.

She also helps her pitcher, as she did when a Bishop Eustace freshman battled command problems in a five-run first inning during Wednesday's 20-7 loss.

When the team called a conference, Innamorato was the first in the circle, displaying the same hustle as when she legged out her double. Once there, she did much of the talking to calm her teammate.

"Supporting the team is a lot more important than being happy about myself," said Innamorato, a two-year team captain. "Since we're going through a rough time in the season, it's important that we keep our heads on straight.

"I kind of take that responsibility on myself to make sure everybody is proud of themselves and keep their heads in the game."

Innamorato's leadership is more than a pick-me-up. She sets an example for a young team, which has only two seniors and three juniors, with her eagerness to practice and improve.

She even left her junior prom early because she had to get up early for a 9 a.m. practice that eventually was rained out.

In many ways, she's softball-obsessed. Innamorato grew up practicing five days a week and is excited for college because she will be able to play year-round.

While Bishop Eustace went through a coaching change in the offseason, she helped organize batting practice during the winter, and continues to help organize an optional captain's practice on off days when she thinks the team could use some more work.

"She has to be a leader, and she is," first-year coach Kathleen Dreitlein said. "She gets up, talks to the girls, and gets them going, gets them motivated.

"The girls have someone to look up to and say, 'She's doing this. I have to do it, too.' "

She even has helped break in her new coach.

"If there's an issue, she's the first to come to me to talk about it," Dreitlein said. "When things go wrong, she's the first to step up and talk to the girls. That always helps."

Innamorato is focused on making her team better, and every now and then, her personal love of the game seeps through.

While it was not much, when she crushed a line drive late in Wednesday's loss that did not start its descent until it had cleared the left-field fence, she could not help but give a little smile, almost kept personal behind the face mask of her batting helmet, as she rounded the bases.