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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Bella Raso Not Letting Diabetes Interfere With Her Softball Playing

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer 
At the urging of her friends, Ashland’s Bella Raso began playing softball on the town team at 6 years old. 
Within two years she found pitching, a position that she fell in love with immediately and one that allowed her the chance to keep everything out of her mind that was going on in her life.
It was in the fifth grade that Raso was diagnosed with diabetes. With diabetes the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can not use it as well as it should. It is a chronic health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy; the food is broken down into sugar or glucose and released into the bloodstream.
“When I originally found out, I really didn’t know what it was. I thought that I had eaten too many cupcakes for my father’s birthday,” Raso said. “The attack on my body changed everything, but through time I learned how to keep it under control. Now softball plays a big part of eliminating my thoughts about my insulin dose of blood sugar.”
With the diabetes interfering with her life, Raso wasn’t attending school but instead being home schooled. As her life was being turned upside down, she decided to put together an Instagram account that described her daily routines going on in her life. Here she meet a community of people, many who became friends, helping her get through the situation with which she was dealt.
“Softball became my go -to or Happy Place,” she said. “At times it would be frustrating because I wasn’t able to pitch because of my blood sugar and that was when I really wanted to just go out and pitch.”
Ashland Coach Bob Downing has been part of Raso’s softball life all four years while at the high school beginning with the junior varsity team.
“She is a very solid player that is always happy. When things are going bad, you would never know it with Bella as she doesn’t let the little things bother her,” the Clocker varsity coach said. “In regard to her diabetes when she I on the field we manage it together. If she begins to struggle because of it, we do whatever is needed.”
As an Ashland freshman she made it onto the junior varsity squad and although her goal was to play for the varsity team, she not only knew that she would eventually climb the ladder, but she was comfortable on the lower level due to the friends that surrounded her.
Not too long into the season she was elevated to the varsity team to pitch the final two innings of a game.
“It was both very exciting but scary in the same sense. The varsity team was a bunch of older students, but they were all so supporting, and it was a great experience,” she said. “As for my first game, I remember it well. They threw me the only extra jersey they had (it was an XXL) and I was wearing my JV pants which were white not the regular blue varsity pants, so I was dressed in all white.”
Despite the fashion mishap, Raso pitched the sixth and seventh innings for Ashland, setting down the opposing batters 1-2-3 in both innings while recording a couple strikeouts and gaining her confidence to play on the variety level.
Just as Raso was finding herself on the diamond, COVID hit the area and all sporting events were canceled. 
“It sucked, but I still got out with some friends and went to the park to play catch and hit some balls,” Raso said. “I also practiced pitching in the backyard with my dad, who was a high school catcher and I still saw my private pitching coach. It was hard and I really missed the friendship of the team that year.”
During her junior year, things were slowly getting back to normal with students only attending school on certain days and participating remotely on the others. Raso found herself at home all five days of the school week. “Being a hybrid year, where I was fully remote, I only got to see my teammates during games,” she said. “Being my only interaction with people other than my family, I was so excited to get together and see everyone from the team.”
As her senior campaign began, Raso was hoping that she could improve her game in the circle, especially in the strikeout area and with her speed. Ashland primarily goes with two hurlers, currently has one sidelined, so all of the work is falling on Raso’s shoulders. 
“Bella has not only turned into a great young lady who has always been a good pitcher, but her speed and velocity on her pitches are getting better,” the Ashland skipper said. “As a hitter she struggled at first but now she’s swinging the bat well and has an eye for pitches.”
As Raso continues to improve her game she is hoping that her Clocker teammates can play together as a team.
“Last year, I think that we lost a lot of team aspect for the game,” the senior pitcher said. “I want to have them try harder as I feel we gave up a lot last year. This year we may not be as good of a team, but we will be in each game until the very end.”
Not only will Raso say goodbye to her friends and teammates at the conclusion of her senior season, but she will also be saying goodbye to softball forever.
“This is my last year of playing the sport as softball is not played in Scotland as I will be attending the University of Glasgow to major in Bio Medical Engineering (to make medical supplies like insulin pumps),” Raso said. “We’ve been to Scotland once before and I loved it, so it was my dream to go back.”
No matter what is going on within her body Raso has tried not to let her feelings be known to others, instead she just wants to take the ball and head onto the softball field.
“She is always smiling, and you don’t expect that from someone having problems,” Downing said. “She has a knack for not letting things get her down.”
And with that determination, despite the troubles the Clockers have encountered on the field this year, Raso continues to smile while fighting through her issues to give the team the best chance of succeeding.