On a cold Monday afternoon in early March, it was Marissa Braito’s Sacred Heart jacket flailing in the wind well in front of the pack, while her teammates were still yards behind her finishing their sprints.
It’s become a common sight around the Sacred Heart softball team as Braito is ready to take the lead for the Spartans — and she is a difficult one to catch.
“I consider myself to be pretty relentless,” Braito, entering her senior season, said. “I like to leave it all on the field because nobody likes that feeling of going home after a game and thinking you could have done more.”
And that’s a feeling Braito rarely has. The four-year Sacred Heart shortstop won the CHSAA MVP last season, batting .661 with 41 hits, 34 runs and 26 stolen bases, only striking out four times. She has 71 stolen bases and 97 runs in her three seasons.
“I love running the bases,” Braito said. “I feel in control and I feel like I’m dictating the game, almost.”
“She just creates havoc out there,” coach John Rama said. “Sometimes I’ll be coaching third base and she’s at second and next thing I know, she’s on third and I’m not even looking for her to be there. I’m just like ‘Wow, what a great read. I couldn’t have even read it that fast myself.’ ”
But Braito, committed to play at Binghamton, isn’t one to boast about her talents. After sprints, she’s there encouraging her teammates to keep running hard. Her competitiveness shines in those moment, as she smiles when thinking about how others try to beat her in races.
Still, she knows a team’s success goes far beyond that of a top player.
“Talent is obviously a big part of the game, but don’t get me wrong, talent can only take your team so far,” she said. “Even though talent can be a catalysis for success, I think rather the foundation for the team’s success is rooted in the players abilities to effectively work together as a unit toward that team goal in the end.”
Look no further than last season when despite having the league MVP, league pitcher of the year and a third baseman on her way to Seton Hall, St. Anthony’s defeated the Spartans in both postseason matchups to win the CHSAA championship.
It’s a feeling that Braito remembered during every offseason workout. After winning a state CHSAA championship in her sophomore season, Braito is fighting to take the title home again as a senior.
“On the field, she’s a true competitor,” Rama said. “Doesn’t want to lose and works hard . . . there’s nothing else you could ask for. It’s like the old cliché ‘You wish you could have 14 others like this’ but I know I can’t.”