Sports Person of the Week
Piercey Leading the T-Birds on the Field
After serving as a captain for the North Branford girls’ basketball team the past two seasons, Erica Piercey is leading the T-Birds on the ballfield in that same capacity this spring. (Photo courtesy of Erica Piercey)
Erica Piercey fell in love with the sport of softball as soon as she stepped on the field. Erica went on to play softball at North Branford High School and is leading the T-Birds as a senior captain this spring, after which she will continue her career at Wheaton College in Illinois.
“I just worked so hard to get to this point. My junior year was tough on me, because I needed to pick which college I’m going to. I was determined in seeing the end,” Erica says. “Once I finally got committed, it was a big stress off my shoulders. I felt like I finally found my place and was excited I can continue playing softball at a really good school.”
Erica’s journey through softball started in North Branford’s Little League when she was six. Erica quickly realized that softball was something she wanted to pursue in the long term.
“It definitely clicked with me right when I went on the field,” says Erica. “There’s something about it. It just felt right. It felt like something I would want to do for a while.”
Erica started competing for the Shoreline Sting travel program at age 10, while continuing to play Little League in North Branford. When she was 16, Erica joined the Connecticut Charmers to increase her chances of playing softball in college. At every step, Erica saw her softball skills flourish as her passion for the game did the same.
“Sticking with it all these years made high school a lot easier. I had all of this experience. Coach Ross Senerchia and my dad always helped me along the way,” Erica says. “Playing with my team helped me grow as a person. I couldn’t stay away from softball. If I had a weekend off, I just wanted to be on the field again.”
Erica mostly played for North Branford’s JV team as a freshman, but also served as a pinch hitter for the varsity squad, earning her varsity letter. Making the move to the high school game wasn’t easy for Erica. However, she was bolstered by support from both her fellow freshmen, as well as the T-Birds’ veteran athletes.
Erica became North Branford’s starting right fielder in her sophomore season. Erica had played second base at the travel level, but was willing to play anywhere in order to get a spot in the varsity lineup. Erica found that her pinch-hitting experience as a freshman made her feel more comfortable while starting varsity as a sophomore.
“It was definitely easier. Getting practice time with the varsity team during my freshman year, it felt like I had already been there,” says Erica, who helped the T-Birds win their fifth-straight Shoreline Conference title that season. “I felt like I was a part of the team. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, she played JV last year.’ They accepted me and knew that I belonged on the field.”
Erica saw junior season get canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When she returned as a senior, she did so as both a captain and North Branford’s starting second baseman.
Erica says that she’s gained a lot of confidence by competing for the T-Birds. In her freshman year, Erica would let a hitting slump get into her head and affect her fielding. As she gained more experience, Erica was able to overcome those obstacles and become a better all-around softball player.
Head Coach Nick DeLizio has seen Erica grow as both a player and a leader through the past few years. DeLizio believes that the Thunderbirds’ younger players can learn a lot from the example that Erica sets with her work ethic.
“Erica has brought passion for the game with her, day in and day out. Her love for the game and her willingness to be a leader for her teammates is something that will resonate in the years after she has left the program,” DeLizio says. “The underclassmen are lucky to have someone like her to look up to. Hopefully, they can see how Erica treats others and plays the game, so they can positively influence the next generation of softball players.”
Erica has also played for the North Branford girls’ basketball team, serving as a captain in both her junior and senior seasons. This spring, Erica is leading the T-Birds as a captain on the softball field alongside fellow seniors Jada Miconi and Sophia Ouellet. Erica says it was an honor to be named a captain for softball. She feels that holding that role with the basketball team as a junior helped prepare her to lead both teams in her senior year.
“My junior year, I became basketball captain. When I went for captain as a senior on the softball team, I had that experience under my belt. I knew how to be a leader,” says Erica. “When I was a junior captain, I was a lot more timid. I learned from the senior captains. When I became a senior captain, I learned how to use my voice and take responsibility.”
After she graduates from North Branford, Erica will head off to Wheaton College in Illinois to play softball and major in biology. Erica has learned lifelong skills through her experience on the softball field, and she’s looking forward to putting those attributes to good use at the college level.
“Softball helped me find a lot of my best friends that I’m still with today. It gave me experience working with others, being a part of a team, and working in a group,” Erica says. “When I go out of college, I already have those skills when I go to work and start my career. All of those skills are helpful.”