NEWTOWN SQUARE — When Alex Viscusi began her first year at Episcopal Academy, there was an adjustment period. The same could be said for most students who make the leap from a public school district to a prestigious, private institution such as EA.
Viscusi felt somewhat out of place, but eventually adapted to her new surroundings and has thrived, both academically and athletically. The soon-to-be senior has already booked her commitment to Princeton University, where she'll continue to play softball beginning in 2016.
"Before I came here, I knew it was going to be hard because I grew up with all my friends in the Penn-Delco School District. I had never been the new kid," said Viscusi, an Aston resident. "I knew the same kids from kindergarten until eighth grade. So, coming here I knew it was going to be a challenge socially. I think I knew two kids and they were going to be in my grade also. The curriculum itself, going from public school to a private high school, was tough for me. I struggled my first semester, but once I got that first semester under my belt my freshman year, I figured it out."
Before her freshman season as ace of the softball team, the Churchwomen weren't well-known for their success on the diamond. But Viscusi was the one player who changed the complexion of the program, taking it from an Inter-Ac League cellar dweller to a state champion. From Day 1 under the tutelage of coach Terry Coyne, Viscusi realized she was being counted on to produce.
"I knew I would be pitching a lot," she recalled. "I pitched a lot of the games and we also had Caroline Giles who pitched a few. There was also Liz Capper who pitched a game or two. I don't remember him actually saying, 'You're our pitcher.' But as the season progressed, I realized that I'm the pitcher. I would pitch on the side to (catcher) Gabby (Donatucci) every practice and that kind of clued me in because I was the only one out there doing it. Caroline and Liz weren't over there, so I realized, 'OK, I guess it's just me.'"
Recent graduate Donatucci would be Viscusi's catcher for the next three years and, together, they won a lot of softball games. In 2014, the battery guided Episcopal Academy to its greatest season to date. Viscusi was particularly amazing as she posted a 15-2 record with nine shutouts, a 0.35 ERA and 135 strikeouts over 101 innings. She authored a no-hit masterpiece in the biggest game of her life — a 1-0 victory over Agnes Irwin to capture the PAISAA state title. Viscusi was also a hitting machine, finishing with a .600/.677/1.180 triple-slash line, six doubles, five home runs, four triples, 28 runs scored and 29 RBIs.
Viscusi's brilliant 2014 campaign resulted in her becoming the first Episcopal Academy softball player to earn the Daily Times Player of the Year award.
Joining Viscusi on the All-Delco team, which is selected after consultation with local coaches, are Springfield's Courtney Scarpato (pitcher), Lauren Scarpato (third base), Tori DePietro (shortstop) and Taylor Winkelman (center field), Radnor's Izzy Schaefer (pitcher) and Bari Margolis (shortstop), Cardinal O'Hara's Molly Rafferty (pitcher) and Lauren Del Romano (second base/shortstop), Agnes Irwin's Katie Wenger (pitcher), Chichester's Meghan Wimmer (pitcher), Haverford's Bridget Newman (pitcher), Garnet Valley's Sam Tomasetti (shortstop), Marple Newtown's Rylee Power (shortstop) and Upper Darby's Kate Robinson (shortstop/catcher).
Viscusi had stiff competition for the Player of the Year award. Del Romano, Schaefer and Courtney Scarpato were under consideration for the honor.
Viscusi was truly awesome in 2014. She's also a popular player outside of her school. Opposing teams have immense respect for her talent, and it's easy to see why.
Led by Viscusi's outstanding pitching and hitting, the Churchwomen won the Inter-Ac League and Pennsylvania Independent Schools championships. Both were firsts in the program's history.
Viscusi held her own against stiffer competition from around the area. EA's only loss was to District One Class AAA champion Radnor, but poor defense plagued Viscusi and the Churchwomen in that particular game. The Churchwomen defeated Conestoga and Del Val League champion Chichester. The tough out-of-league schedule paid dividends.
"My freshman year, we would have never played those teams. We would have never competed," Viscusi said. "Every single girl on the team has improved tremendously over the past two years and, going forward, we're only losing two seniors. So a lot of the team is going to be the same next year. To see what we're going to be capable of doing next year is going to be awesome. Playing those teams is a big reason for that. You can tell, the girls have really improved. Girls want to swing the bat and put the ball in play and make the plays in the field. It's a lot different than freshman year and playing those tough teams heightened the confidence level of everybody."
It's scary to think of what Viscusi can accomplish next season before she heads off to college. That's a thought the rest of the Inter-Ac League must worry about.
"I think we can be better next year," she said. "We want to keep improving and I believe we'll do just that."