Loredana Auletta: "Playing in the Olympics is the best of the best"

Loredana Auletta: "Playing in the Olympics is the best of the best"
Auletta represented Italy at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Her daughter Erika Piancastelli will be the captain of the 'Azzurre' in Tokyo

Loredana Auletta enjoyed a successful career in softball. She flew to Australia as a 31-year old to participate in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. At the time she was playing for Forlì in the Italian Softball League.

"The memories about playing in the Olympics still make me emotional," recalled Auletta. "The Olympic tournament is the top experience for an athlete. It is so big, that it looks like a dream until you actually make the field."

Italy earned two wins during the Sydney Games. "We got to Sydney ready to compete. We earned those wins, but we didn't really come together as a team. Winning those two games was great, but I'm still convinced we could have done more."

Pitcher Susan Bugliarello earned the wins, both 1-0, against Cuba and New Zealand. Auletta was her catcher. "Susan was our top player, our ace. She gave us 101% of what she had. Phenomenal."

Auletta began her playing career in Modena. She arrived in Parma from Casalecchio, near Bologna, in 1993. She played for Forlì in her late years. All of her softball has run along the Via Emilia, the ancient road built by the Romans almost 200 years Before Christ and that still connects the Emilia Romagna and Lombardia Regions in northern Italy.

Auletta's career as a top catcher in the Italian League had resumed in 1997 after a stop. In 1996 Loredana and her husband Pier Piancastelli, a former baseball outfielder, celebrated the birth of twin sisters. One of them, Erika, followed her mother's footsteps and is now the captain of the Italian National Team that earned a spot in the softball tournament of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020.

"As I said," added Auletta "Playing in the Olympics is the best of the best of what can happen to an athlete. I'm so happy that my daughter is close to living this dream."

Did you share your Olympic memories with her?
"She was very curious about a tattoo I made together with teammates Marta Gambella and Clelia Ailara to remember the Sydney Games. She kept asking questions and this led me to share those emotions with Erika and her twin sister Nicole."

The Olympics won't happen in 2020. How did Erika react?
"I would say she felt relieved. Before the postponement was announced, the uncertainty made her anxious. She is now aware that she has one more year to get ready."

Auletta and her family have been spending the Covid-19 quarantine days in their house in Modena, Italy.
"This quarantine meant a big change. We can only adapt to it, like everybody else. We have been trying to #StayStrong. We created a hitting station so that Erika can keep working. We use indoor softballs of course. Erika leads the conditioning and forces me to follow her up and down the stairs."

Auletta is still active in softball as a coach.
"I admit I miss the field. It's been two months now and I can't wait to get back. In the meantime, I believe a way to #StayHealthy for the softball community is to keep in touch."

On a final note, when Erika plays for Italy in Tokyo, will it be the first case of a daughter following her mother's step in softball at the Olympics?
"I'm not sure about it, but I tend to believe it never happened in softball. For sure, it never happened in Italian softball."