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Around the Diamond with Gianna Cilluffo

East Rockaway pitcher Gianna Cilluffo delivers in the

East Rockaway pitcher Gianna Cilluffo delivers in the fourth inning against Friends Academy in the Nassau Class C softball county championship game. (May 14, 2012) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Welcome to another installment of Around the Diamond.  Each week we’ll sit down with a local high school softball player and ask her a series of questions…some that relate to softball, some that don’t, and some that may even be slightly embarrassing.

This week we feature Gianna Cilluffo of East Rockaway. The senior pitcher has more wins that anyone in Nassau county this season, having gone 18-4 so far. She has helped the Rocks overcome a season of adversity, during which they were displaced from their school because of Super Storm Sandy, went without a home field all season long and lost a majority of their equipment. Now she has East Rockaway one win away from a Class B county championship, the deciding game of which will be played at 4 p.m. today against Locust Valley. Oh, and as you’ll soon find out, she wants to have dinner with a wizard.

Gianna Cilluffo now takes us Around the Diamond… 

Brag about yourself, what do you do well in the circle? “I think that I control the pace of the game pretty well. The inning starts and ends with the pitcher. As a batter you call time to mess with a pitchers’ head so I make sure that I'm ready to go as soon as the batter is so there are no games being played.”

What's the best part of being a pitcher? “Striking out batters. Knowing the batter can't touch your fastball is one of the best feelings ever.”

What has been most impressive about your team's season? “We played fourteen league games and we scored less than ten in only three of them. Our offense was so solid this year, and our whole line up contributed, not just a few of us.”

Your team can win a county title because....“Our team doesn't give up. We get so emotionally attached to each game. We could be losing by eight in the sixth inning and then put up twelve runs like it’s no big deal. We also play as a team. When one girl does something well we are all so excited for her. Our team has a bond that is so indescribable. We are all friends and we mold together as one on the field.”

What's the most embarrassing song on your iPod? “I have like five different 'What Makes You Beautiful' versions on my iPod.”

TV shows on your DVR? “Most embarrassing shows? I probably have Hannah Montana saved from a few years ago.”

What happened in your first varsity at-bat? “My first varsity at-bat was against Friends Academy. I was a freshman. I remember being so nervous. I felt that if I did something wrong all of the older girls would be mad. I think I ended up grounding out to the pitcher.”

What's been  your favorite moment that while playing for East Rockaway? “My junior year, when we won counties. I remember our third baseman caught a line drive to end the game and I turned to my catcher, who is also my best friend, Jess Deptulski and she just jumped on me. We were so excited. It was 
amazing.”

What's the biggest hit of your career? “I hit a 285 foot home run this year. That was pretty awesome!”
 

What's something your teammates tease you about? “My speed! I'm one of the slowest girls on the team and I get torn apart for it. Every time we do relay races no one wants to be on my team!”

Do you have any hidden talents? “None that I can think of.  I really wish I could sing though. I love to do  it, I'm just really bad.”

Who's your funniest teammate? “Dom Halik. She just says things not trying to be funny and the whole team cracks up, even our coaches. It is never a dull moment with Dom.”

Who's your shyest teammate? ”I guess Jess Cerasoli. She's not really shy, just quiet.”

Who's your most competitive teammate? “Either Tiffani Parente or Jess Deptulski. They both hate to lose, a lot.”

What are your pregame rituals or superstitions? ”I'm the most superstitious person ever. I walk to the mound the same way, I wear the same hair ties, I high five my team mates the same way. If something works once, I'm going to keep doing it. It gets a little crazy sometimes.”

What are some of the best nicknames for players on your team? “Coach Lores calls me ‘Q’. I think it has something to do with James Bond. But my whole team has nicknames. Sam Mantovoni is ‘Sticky Fingers,’ Jess Cerasoli is the ‘Vacuum,’ and Gina Skelly is ‘Spider Creature.’

What's your most embarrassing on-field moment? “I remember going for a fly ball that was so clearly out of play. The ball ended up in the water but I was screaming my head off that I had it. I must have looked insane.”

What do you want to be when you grow up? “A pediatrician. I want to be able to help kids.”

If you were the coach of your team for a day, what would you do? “I would make them tell about how much of an amazing coach I am…then I would probably make them run.”

If you were President for a day, what would you do? “Oh boy, I don't even know. Probably play basketball in the White House.”

If it was your last day on Earth, where would you want to go? “I would want to go to Italy with my family. It looks so beautiful.”

If you could have dinner with any three people throughout history, who would they be? “Babe Ruth, he is one of the best baseball players to ever live. He played in a time when no one used steroids so everything he did was all him. Harry Styles from One Direction, I'm a huge 1D fan and he's my favorite. Harry Potter, he is the wizard who defeated the most powerful dark lord of his time. Who wouldn't want to meet him?”