Gabriel is ‘pitcher perfect’
By Matthew Peaslee
Many dreams have already come true for Poland’s Erin Gabriel.
The senior pitcher has been regarded as the best player in Ohio, already has a full-college scholarship lined up and has traveled the world representing her country on the softball diamond.
On Sunday she crossed another item off her bucket list — to pitch on national television. “I always believed it would happen,” Gabriel said. “Just not this soon.”
After striking out 34 batters in a 16 inning game on April 9, during the Bulldogs’ recent spring break trip to Florida, the reigning Vindicator softball player of the year has seen her name appear on CNN.com, Yahoo.com and other national sites.
“And it blew up from there,” says her mother, Lori.
A few days later while sitting in the food court of the Delray Beach Mall, Reid Lamport heard his phone ring. He didn’t recognize the number, but picked it up anyway. On the other line was a Fox News producer wanting to do a story on Gabriel’s strong performance in Poland’s 2-1 win over American Heritage — a defending Florida state champion.
“At first I thought they just wanted to do a remote broadcast from down there in Florida,” Lamport said. “But when they wanted to fly her and her parents to New York City to film a segment — it was exciting. Just a ‘wow’ moment.”
So, last Saturday, the Gabriels flew from the Fort Lauderdale airport to NYC and stayed in a Manhattan hotel — all on Fox News’ dime.
“It didn’t hit me until I got there, saw the lights, cameras and the studio and learned all that went into it,” Gabriel said. “Everything was just spinning around me. It was unbelievable.”
In the live segment that aired Sunday morning on Fox and Friends, Gabriel talked about the game, the strikeouts and her supportive Poland teammates before demonstrating her pitching. She fanned hosts Clayton Morris and Dave Briggs with ease.
Although she admits that her heart was racing a mile a minute, Gabriel appeared calm and poised — thanks to her father, George, who caught her pitches.
“It was actually relaxing because he was there to help me out,” she said. “It was just even more special because he could experience it with me.”
Even with the exposure, Gabriel remains humble.
“I had no idea what was coming out of that game,” she said. “I’m thankful for my team because nobody really knows how well they played. I got the attention, but if they weren’t there staying through it with me, we wouldn’t have won.”