Former McNeese star Erika Piancastelli makes Italy Olympic softball squad

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Erika Piancastelli

LAKE CHARLES – Former McNeese two-time All-American Erika Piancastelli boarded a plane Thursday with her Italian softball team headed to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I think the word everyone can agree on right now is FINALLY,” said Piancastelli. “We’ve been waiting so long for this moment and its finally here. It feels unreal right now. My teammates and I have been talking about this moment for almost two years now.”

The native of Modena, Italy, who holds several McNeese and Southland Conference records will check this off her list of dreams and accomplishments she set when she was a young kid.

The Italian team will open Olympic competition at 10 p.m. (Central Time) July 20 against the United States.

Piancastelli is only the second McNeese athlete and the first female athlete to compete in the Olympics. The only other McNeese athlete to compete in the Olympics was track standout Fanahan McSweeney who competed for Ireland.

A year delayed due to COVID, the announcement was upsetting to everyone but Piancastelli took advantage of the lockdown and stayed in shape the best she could with workouts being done in her home.

Once the lockdown was lifted, Piancastelli and her teammates were able to practice on fields as much as possible. She and her national team were able to travel a little more this year which proved to be beneficial. That turned out to be a good thing because they recently won the European National Championship for the second straight year.

Piancastelli said she it hasn’t really sank in her head that she is heading to Japan for the Olympics, she has been busy packing and getting everything ready for the trip but said that as soon as her alarm goes off to wake her up, it will hit her and just knowing that getting on the plane is a big day gives her goosebumps.

Piancastelli also wanted to thank McNeese and the people of Lake Charles and had these words to share.
“Thank you for always believing in me, for always supporting me and my dreams. You all have such a huge role in my journey and I will forever be grateful for my McNeese family, Yes, I’m representing Italy but I always represent McNeese. GEAUX POKES ALWAYS.”

When you work hard and dream big like Piancastelli has, those dreams come true no matter what high school or collegiate team you were or a member of. When the 2020 Olympic games are over and no matter if Italy wins a medal- Piancastelli, our two-time All-American will be able to call herself an Olympian, a title only a few athletes can claim.

My last question to Erika: What does it mean to have the word Olympian associated with your name? “A dream come true,” replied Piancastelli.

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