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Spring season cancellation ends run for record for Buena Chiefs softball star

Spring season cancellation ends run for record for Buena Chiefs softball star
Bridgette Gilliano was just three hits away from becoming Buena Regional High School’s all-time hits leader for the Chiefs’ varsity softball program. Without being able to play her senior season due to spring sports being canceled, Gilliano won’t be able to claim the school’s top spot. (Courtesy: @BRHSsoftball17/Twitter)

BUENA, N.J. (BVM) — Bridgette Gilliano was hoping to have a memorable senior softball season. With just three hits left until she could claim her spot atop the school’s career record book, her goal came to a screeching halt.

The Buena Regional High School softball star had big goals to achieve in her senior season. With the cancellation of spring sports due to COVID-19, it’s been tough for her to not look back on what could have been in her final year.

“It’s hard because, usually for the juniors, the sophomores and the freshmen, they get to come back and leave it on the field,” Gilliano said. “For us seniors, I’ve missed out on leaving my true mark as a senior, I left the what-if marks. I feel like I wasn’t able to actually accomplish the things that I was working towards. 

“Everything I wanted to accomplish like reaching my 200th hit, breaking the record in the first few games of the season, all these things that could have happened. To me, it’s like I’m going down as one of the biggest what-ifs.”

Even with the team assuming the worst, the news of the softball season cancellation still came with many emotions.

“When that day came that the governor decided everything was closed for good, I gave the girls a day to work it through,” Buena softball coach Pam Pickett said. “The next day I talked with them and they cried and I cried, we were sad.”

The career hits record along with home runs, runs and stolen bases were all in reach for Gilliano going into her senior season. Those records would have been great for Gilliano, but the idea of playing with her teammates for the last time wasn’t supposed to happen like this. 

“If I could take five minutes to be with my teammates, I would take it,” Gilliano said. “The glue we all had together, we were like a big group of sisters. I would do anything to get back on the field with just them, even if I don’t break a record I could care less. If I’m playing and I could turn two one more time with my teammates, then I’ll take it.”

“Like everything in her life, she took it in stride,” Pickett said. “She was obviously disappointed, but she was more disappointed that she didn’t get to play with her teammates.”

Gilliano had a phenomenal high school career, starting on the varsity team since her freshman season. The Chiefs shortstop is also a two-sport athlete who has shined on the basketball court, scoring over 1,000 points in her hoops career. 

“She was explosive from the moment she stepped on the field,” Pickett said. “Everyday she made sure she improved something, she’s just a natural athlete.”

After her sophomore year, Gillano had totaled 100 career hits. Her stellar play continued into the next year as she helped lead the Chiefs to their best season in school history, reaching the state finals. Gilliano and the rest of her teammates had hoped they would get the chance to build upon their success from the 2019 season.

The spring sport cancellation news has been tough for everyone involved. Pickett’s head coaching career didn’t have a playbook for the events that have unfolded before her 33rd season could begin. With this being her first year as a retired teacher, she didn’t expect to not have the softball season as well.

“I had a difficult time as well, not being around the girls and not being on the field, I hadn’t done that in my entire career,” Pickett said. “It was difficult for me as well as the girls. What was nice about that, even though it was difficult, was that I could relate to the girls; it wasn’t like I couldn’t understand where they were coming from. Obviously, I get to go back, my seniors don’t have that opportunity.”

Pickett has had to enter into uncharted waters, continuing to keep in contact with her team in different ways. The Buena Regional softball team has continued to participate in Zoom calls while also creating a team TikTok video before the season was canceled.

Gilliano will continue to play softball at the next level, attending Mount St. Mary’s University in the fall.

 

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