Bellotto thrives at Mocs' only coach

11:25 PM, May 11, 2012   |    comments
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Lakeland, Fla. -- Florida Southern has fielded a softball team since 1982.

Every game, Chris Bellotto has been the head coach.  Now in her 31st season leading the Moccasins, Bellotto just can't get away from her hometown.

"Immediately when I started I knew I was having a lot of fun," Bellotto said. "But honestly, I tell people it feels like I've been here half the time."

Bellotto graduated from Lakeland High School, then played softball at Florida Southern when it was a club sport.  She started the program at the collegiate level in 1982 and spent three years builiding it as a slow-pitch program.

Then in 1985, fast-pitch softball was introduced and Bellotto built a powerhouse.  In her 31 seasons, the Moccasins have reached the NCAA tournament 20 times and have won 20 Sunshine State Conference titles.

"When you get a chance to work with these young people every day, it keeps me young," Bellotto said. "It's really been a neat run."

Florida Southern advanced to the NCAA super regional against top-ranked Valdosta State beginning Friday.  Bellotto's team won the NCAA South regional as the fifth-seeded team.

Pitcher Christine Clark led the charge.

"This is definitely the way that I wanted to end my softball career is going out on top," Clark said.

Bellotto feels the same way.  There's just no telling when she will end her softball career.  She does know it will end in Lakeland.

"You couldn't ask for a better school to me than Florida Southern College," Bellotto said. "I live and die this place, and I love it."

Travis Bell, 10 News

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