Jessica Mauro wasn’t sure what to expect from her first season on the MacArthur varsity softball team.
The freshman pitcher said she was nervous at tryouts, not sure if she was even going to make the team, but over the last few weeks, Mauro hasn’t just found her confidence, she’s found the strike zone. Mauro racks up double-digit strikeouts nearly every time she steps into the circle, including an 18-strikeout, one-hit performance in the Generals’ 7-0 win over East Rockaway on May 8, earning her Newsday Athlete of the Week honors.
“It’s all about having the right mentality,” Mauro said. “I wasn’t always as cool under pressure as I am now. Learning the pitches and all that, it’s been a work in progress, but it’s as much a mental game as anything else.”
Mauro struck out the first 13 batters she faced in the win over East Rockaway and followed up with 10 strikeouts in a complete-game effort to lead MacArthur to a 4-3 victory over Seaford on May 10. They’ve been dominant performances, but Mauro admitted she’s not keeping track of her strikeout totals.
“When you’re out there, it’s just the game,” Mauro said. “You’re not paying attention to that, you’re paying attention to the batter. So, on the bus, Coach will say how many I have and I’m always, like, ‘Wow, wait, really?' ”
Mauro, who said she started pitching at seven or eight years old because “it was fun,” has worked on fine-tuning her approach every game. She’s grown as a leader, done her best not to linger on any mistakes and, most importantly, worked on her changeup, what she considers her shutdown pitch.
She has the most fun when she’s throwing that one.
“That’s my go-to. I really like that pitch,” Mauro said. “It seems to throw off batters, keeps them on their toes.”
Mauro’s success has been the spark for MacArthur, said coach Bobby Fehrenbach. The team graduated six starters from last year’s team, but Mauro’s emergence and her work with senior catcher Lisa Fabig, who moved behind the plate after two seasons at third base, has helped the team find its rhythm.
“I knew if [Mauro] was as good as advertised, we were going to be good this year,” Fehrenbach said. “She’s very composed out there. Whether she allows a home run or strikes out the side, it’s the same attitude.”
Now, Mauro has her sights set on a deep playoff run, looking to capture MacArthur’s second Long Island championship since 2017. She doesn’t have any plans to start keeping track of her strikeouts, but Mauro isn’t afraid to let her expectations fly sky-high, confident in what she and her team can do.
“This team has jelled together, and I trust my defense behind me,” Mauro said. “That makes everything easier.”