By Larry Moko
Monica Daly has signed her letter of intent to attend Wayne State University on a softball scholarship. But before she leaves for the Detroit campus this fall, the St. Mary Catholic Secondary School student has one remaining goal.
“Hopefully, we can four-peat this year,” Daly said in reference to the St. Mary Crusaders’ streak of three consecutive Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association slo-pitch championships.
Daly, the Crusaders shortstop, has been a key factor in that run of success.
During a signing celebration at St. Mary attended by some of Daly’s coaches, family members and teammates Friday, St. Mary coach Charles Giudice said: “Monica has been a fantastic player for us since the very first day she walked in. Her work ethic is unbelievable. She never-ever doesn’t want to play. She’s a great teammate and leader.”
St. Mary hasn’t lost– 22 league games – with Daly in the lineup.
“Monica is our rock,” Giudice added. “She’s phenomenal. She’s got total baseball sense and that’s hard to overcome in this league.”
Of course it wasn’t just Daly’s track record in high school slo-pitch that attracted Wayne State’s attention. It was her performance at the rep level over the years for softball teams based in Brantford, Oakville, Cambridge and Waterloo that stood out.
As a member of the Ontario midget-champion Waterloo Ghosts, for example, Daly brought home a bronze medal this past summer from the 18U Canadian women’s fast-pitch championship tournament in Lloydminster, Alta. Six times she has taken part in provincial championships.
“I’m super happy and excited about the next four years,” Daly said. “They’ve had an excellent program for many years. “When I went there to tour, Wayne State felt like home. The coaches were amazing and the girls were welcoming. I feel I can really contribute. It’s a dream come true.”
In the classroom, Daly is a Grade 12 student with a 91 per cent average. “They have a medical program there,” she said. “I’d like to go into nursing and become a nurse.”
Daly was introduced to T-ball and basketball at the age of 4. In recent years on the basketball court, she has played for both the Crusaders and the Blessed Sacrament major midgets. “She’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever had,” St. Mary basketball coach Jessica Lamparski said.
This past season alone, Daly’s Waterloo fast-pitch team played approximately 70 games in the United States in Canada. And that meant a lot of driving for her family members, including father Patrick and mother Carol. Just getting to and from practices in Waterloo meant three hours of travel time.
“As a family, we could not be more proud and happy for her,” said Patrick Daly. “She loves all sports, but particularly softball. Her three siblings (Kyle, Michael and Colleen) are her biggest fans.”
Kyle Daly accompanied his sister’s Waterloo team to an exhibition game at Wayne State.
“I’ve been to almost all of her games,” Kyle said. “I feel she deserves the support. This is an amazing day because all of her hard work has come to fruition. The last few years she has really dedicated herself.”
Daly had one other comforting friend at the signing event. She brought her baseball glove and placed it by her side on the table. “It’s done a lot for me,” she said. “I’ve had it for five years. It’s my favourite glove.”