Sussex County softball player represents Italy at Tokyo Olympic games
The United States and Italy went head-to-head Tuesday night marking softball’s return to the Olympic games. It also marked the debut of a Sussex County native.
Stanhope native Maria Lacatena was watching the game at home when she received an unexpected surprise.
“I get excited when I see [my sister] and I see the last name and No. 5, but when you actually see a pitching change in the fifth inning, my heart sunk. I was speechless. It was surreal, it was surreal,” says Lacatena.
Lacatena’s younger sister Alexia was put into the game to pitch relief for Italy. Lacatena says that her family group chat exploded when it happened.
“My mother being born there and my father being born here, then lived there and they come to America to make a better life – for my sister to be doing this, to be giving back to Italy, it truly means a lot of our family,” Lacatena says.
Alexia was born in New Jersey and graduated this past spring from Lenape Valley High School in Stanhope. She found out that she made the Italian Olympic team on July 4.
“She missed graduation. She missed prom. She missed all the senior year activities that you only get once in a lifetime,” Lacatena says.
Alexia’s sacrifice is paying off for the whole family. After the Olympics, she will pitch for the University of Kentucky. And she is only just getting started.
“I think she’s the future of Italy – Italian softball. She’s only 18, very young. She has a bright future,” Lacatena says.
USA defeated Italy 2-0. Team USA next faces Canada. Italy faces Australia.