It was an unforgettable journey for Erika Piancastelli – daughter of Blast Software Engineering Manager Pier Piancastelli – to reach the Olympics with Team Italy. Prior to the worldwide event, the team competed at the European Championship in July. Team Italy excelled, compiling an undefeated 11-0 record.
Despite the success, however, it was a bittersweet time for the team. Sadly, they had lost Head Coach Enrico Obletter earlier in the year due to complications from COVID-19. Team Captain Piancastelli recalled the highs and lows of the Championship.
“One of my favorite moments this year, besides the Olympics, was winning the European Championship right before,” Piancastelli shared. “We went 11-0 and we really showed everyone who we are, especially after the loss of our head coach. We played together and it was very emotional.”
Shortly after the European Championship, Team Italy prepared to travel to Tokyo. For Piancastelli, she experienced a mix of emotions as she and her squad headed to the Olympic site.
“I felt excited, nervous, grateful, every emotion you can think of,” Piancastelli reflected. “I felt really good physically as well and I couldn’t wait to start training with my team in Japan.”
Although Piancastelli was bound for her first Olympics, it wasn’t unfamiliar territory for her family. Her mother, Loredana Auletta, also played softball and competed for Team Italy at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Piancastelli’s athletic heritage comes from her father’s side as well, as her father Pier previously played professional baseball in Italy.
Both parents have helped Piancastelli in her training. Loredana has assisted Piancastelli’s club team, Forlì, with a focus on hitting. Meanwhile, with Pier’s role at Blast, he has taught Piancastelli about the swing metrics provided by Blast sensors. Piancastelli previously interned with Blast as well.
“Blast is a very helpful tool,” Piancastelli said. “I try to use it more in the offseason when I’m working on specific things… My dad helped me a lot in the offseason, explaining every metric and explaining the science behind it.”
Piancastelli’s parents were thrilled to see her dedication and training earn her a spot on the Olympic roster.
“What really makes us proud is seeing Erika’s determination and continuous search for new goals and dreams, without limitations,” Pier and Loredana said. “This brings her to work harder and with better quality all the time. Going to the Olympics meant this hard work paid off.”
Upon arriving in Tokyo, Piancastelli and Team Italy settled into the Olympic Village. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the athletes were required to stay in the Olympic Village for the duration of their time competing. It was no problem for Piancastelli, as she enjoyed her time in the Village.
“Everything about the Olympic Village was amazing,” Piancastelli shared. “My favorite part was the athlete cafeteria. It was open 24/7 and every athlete was in there, so it was really cool to be able to go in there and see athletes that you’ve always seen on TV and casually be eating right next to them. It was definitely a fangirl moment there.”
“I also really enjoyed being able to go on walks with my teammates and see the Olympic rings and how beautiful the scenery was,” Piancastelli added.
The Opening Round for softball took place July 20-26. Team Italy was one of six teams at the Olympics, competing against Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, and the United States.
Piancastelli played in all five of Team Italy’s games, alternating between catcher and right field. In Italy’s final game against Canada, Piancastelli led the offense with a pair of hits as well as an RBI. The team’s Olympic run ultimately came to an end on July 25.
When looking back on her experience at the Olympics, Piancastelli is filled with pride.
“Playing for Team Italy means the world to me,” Piancastelli said. “I am proud to represent my country in everything I do, especially with this sport. I love the girls and spending time with them off the field. On the field is obviously always a good time, but the memories I keep close to my heart are always the ones we create off the field – on bus rides, in the hotel, on the plane, etc.”
Now, Piancastelli’s softball journey continues as she prepares for her second season with Athletes Unlimited. She is one of 22 players in the league who competed at the Tokyo Olympics. Opening Day for Piancastelli and Athletes Unlimited will take place on Aug. 28.
For information on utilizing Blast for softball, click here.
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