Sac State softball pitcher’s journey to team’s ace

Marissa Bertuccio has helped lead the Hornets to a 22-20 record so far this season


Spencer Fielding

Marissa Bertuccio poses in front of the Hornet Athletic Center on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Bertuccio has won three Big Sky Conference pitcher of the week awards so far this season.

Spencer Fielding

As the dust settled from pitcher Marissa Bertuccio’s dominant high school career, it was clear that she was different from her teammates. Her coaches and team said she had always been a great athlete, but her mental fortitude is what set her apart. 

“Marissa was always above the curve,” her former travel ball coach Armando Arceo said. “At ten years old, we were telling her to not throw so hard during warm-ups. She was even hitting the ball to the fence. The kid was always ahead of the curve.”

Bertuccio has been a catalyst for the Hornet’s softball team who has now gotten out to an astounding record of 22-20, which is already five more wins than the 2021 season, where they finished 15-27. 

Despite the more recent success, Bertuccio’s first two seasons were vastly different from typical years, according to the Hornets’ head coach Lori Perez. 

“She almost had a double freshman year with last year being the COVID year,” Perez said. “Going through a whole year last year, knowing the preparation, the fitness it takes and ultimately what it takes to compete in the Big Sky Conference.”

This season, Bertuccio has been unbelievable in the circle with a record of 15-7 and an earned run average of 2.10– which is good for third place in the Big Sky Conference. Bertuccio also leads the conference with six shutouts and has 16 complete games, which ties her in first place for the conference. 

RELATED: Sacramento State softball pitcher earns her third Big Sky Conference award this season

“It’s been kind of an honor to see her play her whole college career,” Arceo said, “She’s done amazing things. We kind of expected it, I mean, the kid has been an amazing team player her whole life. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Before Bertuccio was striking batters out, she started playing softball around the age of eight. She started with recreation softball and eventually worked her way up to travel softball. 

Bertuccio said she appreciates her parents sacrificing so much for her.

“When I was younger, I would practice out of town, like two hours away, and they would drive me every single time,” Bertuccio said. “After every game, if I did bad or good, they were always there for me.” 

Bertuccio said her parents taught her about self-discipline and working hard so that she could become the best player she could be.

“They also pushed me, they were not easy on me,” Bertuccio said. “When I was younger, you might not want to go out and practice, but they told me I had to. They kind of pushed me in that way and I’m really grateful for them.”

12-year-old Marissa Bertuccio poses with a trophy. She won the championship trophy in a tournament. (Photo courtesy of Marissa Bertuccio)

Although Bertuccio said she couldn’t remember a specific moment when she felt she was able to play Division I softball, she did recall hearing the noise from people around her. 

According to Bertuccio, she was hearing from other players, coaches and even parents that she was good enough to play at the level she aspired to. 

“Going out there and pitching, seeing my abilities, that’s what put the belief in me,” Bertuccio said.

In high school, Bertuccio was simply unhittable, according to her performance records.

In her four years of softball at Golden Valley High School, she went 58-15 with a 0.74 ERA, all while accumulating 912 strikeouts in 636 innings. 

Bertuccio was a two-time Central California pitcher of the year, four-time all-conference, four-time all-area and a four-time team most valuable player selection. She also threw five no-hitters and two perfect games. 

“I coached against her in high school,” Arceo said. “I coached at Merced High, she went to Golden Valley– which is a cross-town rival. Of my years coaching against her, we were o-fer (zero wins) against her, so she owned us for all four years.”

Bertuccio was even a great hitter as she had a batting average of .475, with 14 home runs and 86 runs batted in. Even though she was a pitcher’s nightmare in the batter’s box, Bertuccio chose to solely focus on pitching Division I softball. She said she misses being able to get in the batter’s box, but she has come to accept her role on the team. 

The focus has paid off, it seems, as Bertuccio is killing it in the circle. Bertuccio’s former coaches said that one of the most important facets of her game has nothing to do with her physical tools but more-so what’s going on upstairs.

[File Photo] Marissa Bertuccio pitches against Portland State at Shea Stadium on Saturday, April 2, 2022. Bertuccio has been a catalyst for the Hornet’s softball team who has now gotten out to an astounding record of 22-20, which is already five more wins than the 2021 season, where they finished 15-27.
(Spencer Fielding)
“Her mental part, she has the physical tools,” Jimmy Dyson, Bertuccio’s pitching coach said. “She doesn’t get rattled very often. That’s been the best part of it, she has that look, she just wants to go out there and compete. It’s been fun to watch.” 

Bertuccio is having an outstanding season in the circle. She has had her fair share of ups and downs, but that doesn’t change her mentality on the mound, she said. 

“Personally, I try to not get in my head,” Bertuccio said. “If I have a bad game, brush it off. If I have a good game, don’t get too excited, keep in the middle ground. Just to keep working and don’t be satisfied with what you’ve done.”

Bertuccio is the ace of the Hornets’ pitching staff. She has kept the same mentality through her first three seasons as she has grown into her role on this Hornet’s squad.

“What you want to have is growth, she has really worked hard to develop her game,” Perez said. “Between the ears, she’s a competitor, she’s somebody that wants to win and is going to continue to fight.”

Bertuccio has grown plenty as a softball player at Sacramento State, but most importantly, she has also grown as a person.

“If you take the athleticism away and if you take the academics away, you get down to the bare bones of who Marissa Bertuccio is,” Arceo said. “She’d still be amazing. You got to give homage to her parents because they raised such an amazing kid.”