Ironton’s Sorbilli joins forces with Shawnee St. coach

Published 3:05 am Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers softball standout Bella Sorbilli signed a letter-of-intent on Monday to play for the Shawnee State Bears. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, brother Sebastian, mother Georgia, Bella, father Tony and Shawnee State head coach Kristen Bradshaw. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

If you can’t beat them, join them. Or, you can have them join you.

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Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ softball pitcher and hitter Bella Sorbilli has been a three-year starter and will be one of the team leaders as she enters her senior season.

First-year Shawnee State head coach Kristen Bradshaw was the head coach at Portsmouth High School and played Ironton twice each season as members of the Ohio Valley Conference.

So, one of the things she did after taking over the SSU program was to get Sorbilli on her side which she did by signing the standout to a letter-of-intent on Monday.

Ironton’s Bella Sorbilli

“I’ve coached against Bella the last three years now, so it’s nice to be able to be in the same dugout as her next year,” said Bradshaw with a grin.

“She just has a lot of energy, a great pitcher who can play any other position as well. I expect her to come right in and make an impact on the team next year.”

Sorbilli had drawn the interest of a number of schools such as the University of Rio Grande, University Charleston, Georgetown (Ky.), University of Pikeville and Ashland (Ohio). But she said Shawnee just had more of what she wanted overall.

“I picked Shawnee because of how close it is to home, how the team is as a whole. Honestly, they’re going to be a pretty good team and they have a good team coming up and the team makes it home. It’s really nice there. I love it,” said Sorbilli.

Although she struck out 23 batters in 34.2 innings last season, Bradshaw doesn’t plan to limit Sorbilli to just pitching. Having seen her ability to hit, the Bears coach doesn’t want to waste her hitting skills.

Sorbilli batted .391 with 4 doubles, 4 home runs and 13 runs batted in last season as Ironton went 15-8.

“She’s come to a few practices with our team this year and she can play anywhere. Not only is she a great pitcher but we’re hoping we can utilize her bat a well. The first time she came she said ‘wherever you need me to play.’ That’s the kind of player we want.”

Sorbilli is being recruited as a pitcher but she said there is nothing set in concrete.

“I’m going in as a pitcher but I’m not sure. All their pitchers do other positions, too. We’ll see how it goes,” said Sorbilli. “In I school I played outfield and last year I started at first base when I wasn’t pitching. I’m not sure where they’ll have me but definitely pitching. Batting? I don’t know either.”

If given the choice, Sorbilli has a preference but she’s not married to the idea.

“Honestly, I really love playing the outfield, but anywhere I’m cool with,” she said. “I can play anywhere but outfield is my favorite.”

Although it doesn’t matter to Sorbilli where she plays, she does want to bat regardless of the position she’s assigned.

“I’m not very good at bunting or small ball. I say I’m more of a power hitter,” said Sorbilli.

Her career began at the age of 7 after skipping the first year she was eligible to play. And since then she has played softball almost exclusively.

“In middle school and grade school I would play basketball and volleyball, but when I got to high school I began focusing on softball because that’s what I wanted to do to go to college,” said Sorbilli.

“I like it because I feel I’m good at it, so when I’m out there and having a good game it’s just easy to forget about everything else and that’s the main thing to forget about everything else and all the memories I’ve made and all the people I’ve met. I’ve met some of my really good friends just from travel ball and all the years of playing.

“All the girls I’ve known my whole life here at Ironton but I’m not as close with them. There will be girls I’ve played with when I was 12 and I still talk to them every day.”

Sorbilli is hoping Ironton will advance further in the tournament than in the past couple of seasons.

“We had a strong team last year and we lost but it wasn’t a blowout. I think we’ve got a good shot of either fighting and keeping up or winning it all. I’m really hoping we win it all. We have a good chance. We didn’t lose anybody,”she said.

Sorbilli plans to major in biology and wants to be a wildlife biologist.

“I want to be a wildlife biologist, but for me it’ll just be like biology with wildlife classes, too,” said Sorbilli.

“I just want to strive academically and hopefully make good grades because my major is going to be a little harder of a major to do. I’m really into science. I just want to get a good jump starting my career when I graduate.”