If you’re at a Bambies softball game, chances are you’ll hear Layla Mastrangelo.
Mastrangelo is a junior centerfielder on the St. Hubert High School softball team, and she uses more than her bat and glove to help the team.
The leadoff batter is also the team’s biggest cheerleader, which makes sense because this winter, she helped the Bambies cheerleading squad win a national championship. She brings the same energy she needed to help her school be one of the best cheerleading teams in the nation to will her softball teammates to make plays.
“I’m really loud, I scream, I cheer, I scream their names, do whatever I can to get everyone fired up,” said Mastrangelo, who lives in Morrell Park. “I’m really excited. I think I’m like a cheerleader in softball, too. I just love to see my friends do well, and when they do, I think I get louder. I just love being around the team.”
Mastrangelo is a cheerleader first, and almost didn’t play softball for the Bambies.
She played growing up, but gave up the sport a few years ago, and during her freshman year, she cheered and, prior to an injury, planned on running track.
After that year, she wanted to return to her roots.
“I was talking to my godfather (Dennis Miller) and after we talked he said I should try out,” Mastrangelo said. “And he knew (Bambies coach Dan Milio), so I talked to him and then I decided to try out.”
It took some reps for her to get back, and after playing some junior varsity, she bumped up to varsity and became a key player.
Now, she’s a captain, a team leader, and the girl who gets the team pumped, not only for games but practice.
She’s also becoming a student of the game and because she’s the leadoff batter, she’s happily giving tips to the girls who bat behind her.
“I’m the leadoff hitter, and a lot of pitchers like to throw strikes, so if they do, I’ll swing first pitch,” Mastrangelo said. “But I like to look at a pitch or two, see where it’s going to be, see what the umpire is calling. I do it for me and everyone on the team. They’re cheering, they’re telling me to keep focused.
“Even if I strike out, I can help the team. Even if I make an out, I can still let everyone know what I see. They’ll ask me what the pitch was or what I’m seeing to help them. I tell them what they were, then I tell them to move up, use quicker hands, get the head on the ball. As a leadoff hitter, that’s part of the job and I love it. I love when I tell them something, and it leads to them getting a hit. I love seeing my friends do well.”
And make no mistake about it, this team really enjoys being around each other, and the bonds have gotten stronger since the start of the season.
“We always were friends, but we went to Myrtle Beach and that was great for all of us,” Mastrangelo said. “Down in Myrtle we got so much closer as a team, and that makes it so much more fun because you’re playing with your sisters.”
The Bambies’ Catholic League season didn’t start off well, falling to last year’s champs Archbishop Wood, but they rebounded to knock off Lansdale Catholic in their second game. Mastrangelo hopes she can help her friends on the softball team experience the same joy she did in the winter when the Bambies won the national cheerleading championship in Orlando. That win was extra special because not only did the varsity team that she cheers for win, but so did the school’s JV Brown team.
“It was the best feeling ever,” Mastrangelo said. “I can’t describe it because I kind of blanked out when it happened. It was excitement, I was nervous when it happened, and very emotional. The other team found out they won, too. It was right around the same time. Someone was on the live varsity TV while we had awards. It made it better because nobody was expecting them to win. They were seventh going into finals. They bumped all the way up to first. It meant so much for all of us.”
When she’s not cheering or swinging for the fences, Mastrangelo is focusing on her studies in the classroom, where she’s an honors student, or working as a hostess at Three Monkeys. She considers her school, her teams and her workplace family, but she also credits her family for keeping her focused. Her biggest cheerleaders are her mom, her brother Joey, a former star wideout at Ryan who is now playing at DelVal, and her godfather.
And when she needs extra motivation, she just looks at her arm, where she has Nanna Bananas tattooed in memory of her father, who passed away last school year.
“It was a nickname from my dad, so I got the tattoo in memory of him,” she said. “I don’t know why he called me that, it happened one day. The tattoo is special.”
So is Mastrangelo, who just wants the best for her teammates and team.
“I want to get into the playoffs, beat Egan because that was a tough game for us last year and to get even closer and help each other even more,” she said. “And also finish school with good grades going into my senior year.
“I’m very energetic, I’m a helpful person, a good leader, I work really, really, really hard and everyone comes before me. I like helping people, I love it actually. I love watching them do well after I help them, that’s the best feeling.”