Whether it was firing strikes over home plate or rocketing hanging pitches deep into the outfield, Maddie Souza has been one of the top softball players in the rising Mashpee program for the past few years. This spring should have been a dance around the bases for her, an all-star level season in which she led the team to the state tournament.
With college ball coming, Souza’s high-level softball career will continue in the future. It is just unfortunate that she did not get one more year of stepping into the pitcher’s circle at home, but great days remain ahead for the daughter of Kirk and Renee Souza.
Maddie is a National Honor Society student who has won several academic merit awards. Athletically, she’s a two-time league all-star. Her favorite subject at MHS is math. She said her most-prized possession is an autographed softball and photograph that was signed by Lauren Chamberlain, a Women’s College World Series player and champion from the University of Oklahoma.
Maddie’s favorite TV show is “Friends,” and “Soul Surfer” is her favorite movie. Shinedown is her favorite band. Her go-to meal is steak with Parmesan-crusted Brussel sprouts and white rice. She’d follow that up with an ice cream sundae.
How did you get involved with softball? How much do you enjoy it?
I first started playing softball when I was around 7 with the Halifax Recreation League. My parents heavily influenced the decision to start a sport. They thought it was important for me to get into something that I could potentially fall in love with, and continue through the rest of my life or at least through my schooling years. Quite frankly, it’s the best decision we’ve made. Since then, playing tournament ball I’ve gone from the Halifax Hurricanes for four years, then having to move to Mashpee and find a new home/team. This eventually led me to the Mashpee Falcons and the Cape Cod Chaos. I love softball, it is my passion and my heart. The field is my safe space and that is something that can never be taken away from me.
This was supposed to be your senior year at Mashpee. What role did you expect to play on the team, and what were your expectations for the Falcons this season?
I planned to be the starting pitcher, middle of the line-up and to be a captain and leader this season. I had high expectations for the Falcons this year because of the talent that we had. As we have been saying for the past few years, we have a very young program and that is something that we have been dealing with since my sophomore year. Being one of two seniors this year, we had one goal and that was to just qualify for tournament. I just have so much love and respect for this program and as a senior I wanted to go out strong and be the best leader I could be and hopefully lead my team to qualify for state.
What was it like to find out that your senior season had been canceled?
I was heartbroken. I was so upset that I couldn’t finish my high school career on a high note and do it with my team. My fellow senior Skylar Dutra and I texted our coach, Alexis, and just thanked her for coming in and taking us in like her kids. Our freshman year was her first year and we all grew up together, so we thought that it was important to thank her. And, Skylar and I just thanked each other, which really got me, because Skylar is my best friend and I love her to pieces and I was so mad that we couldn’t play one last time. Just overall, I am sad and upset that I couldn’t make a mark one last time as Lady Falcon because coming back from an injury was something that I used to get stronger and ready to be there for my team.
You spent your whole high school career on the varsity team. How much do you think you evolved and improved as a player, and what were your expectations for this season?
I feel like I’ve evolved and improved so much as a player through the years. Being a starting pitching freshman year with little to no backup does something to you. I went from being the backup to Sam Fraser and CeCe Piermattei to being the one and only. And that was a big thing for me to fathom, but I used it as motivation in a way, because I knew that I had a team behind me that needed me and I couldn’t let them down or myself down. Then through my sophomore and junior year, nothing changed, it was still just me with some help here and there.
It was hard because as any athlete would, I thought about the “what ifs” and this wasn’t the time to do that. I was starting to be scouted for college and I always knew I wanted to play in college. Coming into my senior season, I just wanted it to be the best one yet and to be fun. I was still recovering from an elbow injury, but I had the “all clear” to play and throw so I just had the expectation to do the best I could and ask for help when needed because I didn’t want to over do it right before I went to college.
You played a lot of summer ball as well. How important do you think playing that was to your development, and how did you choose where to play?
I think that playing summer ball is very important for exposure and competitiveness. I would not change anything about the team I played for or the things I did. The Cape Cod Chaos is an amazing program and I can’t thank them enough for all of their help. Playing summer ball has helped me in so many ways because of the teams, the field conditions, and weather conditions. You may think why would field and weather conditions matter? They are everything because you need to be able to handle any situation you are given, there were many instances where I didn’t like a certain field, or a certain ball, and my coach was like, “suck it up and play” and they couldn’t have been more right. It doesn’t matter the condition, just go out and play.
If you could replay one game that you have played in, which one would it be? Why?
If I could replay one game it would have to be our last regular season game of my freshman year against Carver. It was on Sunday, May 28, 2017. It was a huge game for us. It was the game that determined if we were going to the state tournament or not. The seniors of 2017 were amazing and to be honest, we wanted this for them. We went in knowing our situation, and that people thought there was no way that we were going to win. We have always had our ties with Carver, it always went back and forth. I just remember the rush and the thrill of this game, me being a freshman at the time, I was terrified of not performing well and giving it all for my seniors.
To this day I can still remember the feeling when that last out was performed and we had just qualified for the state tournament for the first time in six years. Defying the odds of being the underdogs and having a new coaching staff and being a part of a great team is something that I will carry with me for a long time. I can’t forget the feeling of our team cheering after the game and just hyping each other up. It was awesome.
What do you consider the highlight of your athletic career so far?
I would consider the highlight of my athletic career so far was the first round of the state tournament win against Rising Tide freshman year. I pitched a good game and the offense was on fire. I was hitting really good and we were all energized and having a good time.
Who is the best teammate that you’ve ever played with? What makes that person stand out?
I have played with so many amazing people, but if I had to choose just one I think it would have to be Skylar Dutra. Skylar has been my friend for as long as I can remember, we have pretty much been playing softball together since the Mashpee Recreation League. Skylar is the type of teammate who can push you and push you, but it’s only to make you better. We have grown up together through softball in some sort of way too. We always have each other’s back and we always help each other when we can. Skylar and I have been building the program and we wouldn’t be able to do it without our coaches and most importantly our teammates. Although our senior season was cut short, I believe that we would have made it good and strong. I can’t thank her enough for all of her help and support because she has had my back since day one and I respect her so much for that. Love ya kid!
Do you have any sports-related superstitions? If so, what are they?
I’m very superstitious, I have too many to list so I will just list a few. I always have to have my hair up whether it’s in braids or a ponytail. I have to put my right sock on, then my left and this also goes for my cleats. And I can never touch the chalk lines unless it’s the circle chalk.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?
The most important thing that I’ve learned from playing sports is that it’s not about the wins and losses, it is about the fun and the chemistry of the team. I see it as, if your team has a strong bond then you are bound to have a successful season. Whether you are on the bench cheering your team on or you’re on the field, the sport can bring you and whoever is around together to have a good time.
Who has been your inspiration?
My parents have been my biggest inspirations. They have been through so much and they have put all their hardships aside to provide a good life for my sister and I. My Dad is one of my best friends and he has helped me through thick and thin whether it be on the field or at home. My Dad has always been the “softball dad” since Day One and that is how our bond just grew so much stronger. My Mom is my rock and also one of my best friends. Being a single mom is hard and I can’t imagine what goes on inside her head, but she is so strong and I can’t thank her enough for her help and support with all of the struggles she has been going through.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
I would like to thank my parents, Kirk and Renee, for all of your time and hard work with getting me to where I am today. I would not be the person I am without you. I would also like to thank all the coaches I’ve had at Mashpee High School including Coach Kelli Horan, Coach Alexis Charest, Coach Kate McCauley, and Coach Donald Valentine. One more coach is my pitching coach, Ashley Kelley-Shadani, thank you for pushing me every session we had to make me stronger and better. Lastly, I would like to thank all of my friends and family for their endless love and support throughout my high school career.
When quarantine life is over, what is the thing you are most looking forward to doing?
I am looking forward to going to see my grandparents and going to the field with some girls to have a day of softball.
What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?
I think the biggest difference between me as a senior and as a freshman is my maturity and mental toughness. If I could go back, I would tell myself to toughen up a little bit and believe in yourself. It doesn’t need to be all at once, but keep training and working hard because it will all work out in the end.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
I love to cook and try new things. If there is a crazy recipe that looks interesting, I will tackle it head on and try it out.
If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?
If I were to switch places with one person for a week it would be Jessica Mendoza. I chose Jessica because she’s an awesome person, a four-time first-team All American at Stanford. She is a commentator for ESPN so you can usually hear her at college games and with Alex Rodrigez at New York Yankees Games. Mendoza was also on the USA National Softball Team from 2004 to 2010. She is just amazing and just knows the game so well and I would love to switch places with her for a day.
Describe your idea of the perfect day.
My perfect day would be waking up one day in late May or early June at a nice hotel in Oklahoma City. I would get breakfast and plan out my day. I would go around OKC and learn about the city and it’s famous landmarks. Later that night I would be sitting behind home plate at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium watching the best of the best College Softball teams in the country fighting to be the Women’s College World Series Champion.
What are your post high school plans?
Post high school, I will be attending the University of Maine at Farmington in Farmington, Maine, and studying Secondary Education with a concentration in Mathematics. I will also be playing softball there.
Where will you be in 10 years, and what will you be doing?
In 10 years, I hope to have a steady teaching job in New England to stay close to family and just do the thing I love. I also hope to be coaching or assistant coaching a local softball team, to teach the sport that has got me through so much in my life.