Revere softball coach Joe Cicarello says that Sabrina Palermo is on the precipice of greatness.
Joe should know. He watched Palermo take the Northeastern Conference by storm this past season, winning 12 games on the mound and finishing second in the voting for the conference most valuable player award.
Palermo has been building an impressive record for the past three seasons. Having been promoted to the varsity as an eighth grader, the 5-feet-5-inch right-hander has recorded victories in three state tournament games the past three years over Methuen, Lexington, and Lowell.
Palermoâ€™s signature performance this season was an awesome 11-strikeout, one-hit 2-0 victory over NEC champion Peabody on Tannersâ€™ Senior Night. Palermoâ€™s effort earned her a legion of fans at Lynn Classical who had needed Revere to upset Peabody in that game to have a shot at the title. Palermo did her job masterfully but Classical lost a heartbreaker to Winthrop and fell shy of its fourth straight crown.
While acknowledging Palermoâ€™s stellar achievements to-date, Cicarello believes his ace hurlerâ€™s best days are ahead â€“ if she continues to work hard and make the commitment to her game in the off-season.
â€œIf Sabrina really steps it up and puts the unbelievable effort it takes to get to that really high level, she can be great,â€ said Cicarello. â€œI think sheâ€™s really on the precipice of becoming an elite North Shore pitcher. But for her to have the exponential growth, she has to live it and own it. She has to pitch in the winter months, lift weights, keep seeing pitching coaches, learn new pitches and master the pitches she has.â€
Long-time Revere softball observers already see Palermo approaching the class of all-time great pitchers at the school including Jen Wells, Lisa Sliwinski, Michelle Kilduff, Kristen Mucci, and others.
The daughter of Anthony and Cheryl Palermo, Sabrina has been pitching this summer for the Mass Inferno, an 18-under regional team of elite players coached by Cara Hovanessian. The catcher for the team is Lindsay Gurska of Revere, who will be playing softball at WPI.
â€œWeâ€™ve played five tournaments and Iâ€™ve been pitching pretty well,â€ Palermo said modestly. â€œI felt I started pitching better toward the end of the high school season.â€
Palermo says she has four pitches in her repertoire: fastball, change-up, screwball, and riser.
â€œMy fastball is my out pitch,â€ said Palermo. â€œI like striking out batters.â€
Palermo struck out 145 batters this season and is on pace to break the 500-strikeout mark for her career.
She first gained notice for her prowess in the St. Maryâ€™s softball league, helping the 10-year-old All-Star team win state and New England titles.
Palermo learned pitching techniques from her father, spending many hours throwing to him in the backyard.
â€œHe taught me the pitching motion,â€ said Sabrina. â€œIâ€™m proud of him.â€
â€œI had a read a book about softball pitching and was able to pass that information on to her,â€ said Anthony Palermo.
As an eighth grader, Palermo struck out 15 Everett freshmen for the Revere middle school team coached by Peter DiCarlo. Soon after Palermo was pitching for the Revere High varsity.
Palermo has focused mostly on her pitching for Revere High, but Cicarello said he will place her in the batting order next season. She had one hit in her only at-bat this season.
Sabrina is following in the footsteps of her older sister, Nicole, 20, who played four seasons in the Revere softball program.
â€œI got to play varsity one year with Nicole and it was fun,â€ said Sabrina. â€œI used to go to all her games when I was little. We used to play catch in the backyard.â€
Sheâ€™s enjoyed her three seasons with the Revere varsity, developing her skills under the tutelage of Cicarello and assistant coach Butch Bruno.
â€œThey do a great job motivating the team,â€ said Palermo. â€œI think we can do some good things next season. We have some very good players returning. I think we can be a championship-caliber team.â€
Asked if sheâ€™s aware that she will likely be an All-Scholastic candidate next season and considered one of the schoolâ€™s most talented athletes, Palermo smiled and said, â€œI donâ€™t really like to judge myself.â€
Sheâ€™ll just have to let others do the bragging for her.