CARLSBAD — One of the best softball players from Carlsbad High School was on display in Tokyo.
Erika Piancastelli, a 25-year-old catcher and team captain, led the Italian women’s national softball team to the 2021 Euro Championship to clinch a berth in the Olympics. At the Olympic Games, the Italians went 0-5 in the six-team pool and did not qualify for the medal round.
Regardless, Piancastelli, a two-time NFCA All American and four-time Southland Conference Player of the Year at McNeese State in Louisiana, said the experience was a dream come true, especially as softball made a temporary return to the games.
“It was an amazing experience, and I still really can’t describe the experience,” Piancastelli said. “It was definitely magical, even with COVID and without the fans. The Olympic Village was a dream.”
In 2008, softball was removed from the Olympic Games before returning this year. Piancastelli said the sport will likely not be part of the program at the 2024 Olympics in Paris but may return for the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
Piancastelli was born in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, to parents Pier and Loredana Auletta and followed in their athletic footsteps, especially her mother, who was an Olympian for the Italian women’s national softball team in 2000. Piancastelli and her mother played the same position and wore the same jersey number.
Piancastelli’s father played professional baseball in Italy.
When Piancastelli was 5, the family moved to Carlsbad, where her softball journey began. For years, she played youth and travel ball before landing at Carlsbad High.
For the Lancers, Piancastelli was part of one of the greatest softball teams in school history, according to former teammate Hannah Bandimere. In 2014, the squad won the San Diego CIF championship and nearly every team member went on to play college ball.
“It gives me the biggest chills,” Bandimere said of seeing her friend play in the Olympics. “She was bred to play softball. She’s always been incredible.”
Bandimere, who is one year younger than Piancastelli, said it was a thrill to watch her friend play in the Olympics. Bandimere, who has Dutch heritage, plays professional softball in the Netherlands. The two former Carlsbad teammates squared off against each other in a 2019 club championship — the first time since their days in youth softball.
Piancastelli, meanwhile, said her path to the Italian women’s national team started in 2014 when she made the junior team. One year later, she joined the senior team. In 2017, she was named the captain, a role Piancastelli’s held ever since. In 2019, Piancastelli and the Italians won the Euro Championship.
In addition to her duties with the Italian women’s national team, Piancastelli also plays professionally in the U.S. for Athletes Unlimited and Scrap Yard Fast Pitch. In Italy, Piancastelli plays for the same club as her mother, even playing alongside some of her mother’s former teammates.
“It’s very full circle and I never expected it,” Piancastelli added. “It’s a cool experience to play and have the same teammates as my mom, be able to meet everybody and kind of live my dreams while embracing hers.”