Family ties: Fasolo sisters bond, grow through softball
On the surface, Saturday’s softball doubleheader between Juniata and Elizabethtown looked like your typical mid-April Landmark Conference event.
But if you took a closer look when you arrived to West End Field this weekend, it’s likely you noticed a large contingent of supporters for two former Altoona softball players who were facing off against each other for the final time.
Alyssa Fasolo is a senior pitcher for the Lady Eagles, while Lindsey Fasolo, her younger sister, is a sophomore pitcher and catcher at Elizabethtown.
Despite Elizabethtown taking both games (9-4, 17-4 in 5 innings), it was a matchup the sisters had been looking forward to all season while they’ve tried their best to keep up with the other’s season exploits.
“We’ve been talking about it all season. Looking back and forth at our stats, and we always keep up with each other’s games,” Alyssa said.
“We play a lot of the same days, so it’s hard to watch each other’s games,” Alyssa said. “But usually, if one of our parents can go see the other one play, that’s our first question after. ‘How’s she doing? How did her game go?’ So, I think it’ll be neat to have us together on the field again.”
The siblings have always motivated and cheered each other on from the time they were young, going back to when Lindsey turned 5 and started playing the game along with her sister.
“They always say pitchers and catchers have that kind of really unique bond, and having my sister as my catcher (growing up) made that 10 times stronger,” Alyssa said.
“We also definitely motivate each other; we were really competitive with each other,” she continued. “So ever since we were little, we’ve always been the biggest force in pushing each other to be better all the time.”
Lindsey was always looking up to and chasing after her elder sister, as younger siblings often do.
“She was older, and I always wanted to be doing the things she was doing,” Lindsey said. “It was really nice to be able to play with her growing up, and anything she did, I wanted to do, on and off the field.”
In addition to motivation, the pair simply made each other better.
“We would always go hit together,” Lindsey said. “We were always able to push each other to be better. As I caught for her, I was able to improve my catching skills and help her to pitch.”
And as they got older and started playing in leagues and on travel teams together, neither sister held back when trying to help along in that process.
“We weren’t afraid to be critical of each other,” Lindsey said, “but we were also each other’s biggest supporters at the same time. So we could always tell each other what we needed to work on, and then go help each other work on it.”
It hasn’t just been the sisters, though. Softball is a family affair in the Fasolo household.
Growing up, Alyssa and Lindsey’s parents, Dom and Michelle, played in slow-pitch softball leagues and took their children to games, while also allowing their daughters and younger son, Dominic, to get involved in as many sports and activities as possible.
“We were around it a lot when we were younger,” Lindsey said. “We grew up keeping the book and doing everything with them, so we loved it from when we were young.”
Eventually, both girls became members of the Keystone Girls Softball League, and their parents became more involved than in just the usual manner of helping transport kids and coaching games.
“It became a family activity,” Dom said. “When they started playing in the Keystone league, I got involved in that, coaching to start with and then I wind up running the league for seven years. We were shopping for the concession stands together, being at the field all the time.
“So, it was being a part of the league, but also having that activity to always share with each other was really deep.”
Dom said to be able to see both of his daughters grow up and to still be playing the sport they love fills him with pride and makes him thankful he got to be a part of a huge part of their lives.
“To be a part of it, to see them enjoy it and want to be around it, you want your kids to be involved in different sports and try to find the one that they like,” Dom said.
“I think even for me with the girls, I played baseball growing up and had been around that, so for them to take to that for me to be able to grow with them in the sport was a lot of fun. I think that was the biggest thing is us kind of learning it together and being a part of it together was the best part for me.”
It was no surprise then to expect their family to be out in full force for this rare matchup. In fact, Michelle helped provide food for an after-game picnic.
“Both of our teams got to stay, and it was really nice because it gave me and my sister some extra time together,” Alyssa said.
Lindsey said that it gave everyone an opportunity to unwind in a non-competitive atmosphere.
“It was really nice to get to talk with all the families and the people who came to support us,” Lindsey said. “That was the closest game I’ll ever play to home, so we had a lot of close family and close friends that came up to watch for both of us.”
Alyssa said that she had mixed emotions after the games were done.
“It was sad that it was our last time (playing each other),” she said. “I was proud because she did really well, and it was really cool to get to experience that with her.”
Lindsey’s day included a combined 4-for-7 at the plate with four runs scored and four RBIs in two games. Alyssa was pitching in relief during the second game, but exited before Lindsey came up to bat.
“I’ve never really had that experience (to hit against Alyssa) before,” Lindsey said, “and it would have been a neat experience to have and I know our friends and family would have liked to see it too, but it didn’t work out that way.”